Sacred Quest

How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on?

As with migrant birds, so surely with us,

there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it,

that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

12 days total, including 4 days solo

Plumas National Forest

12-23 August 2020 — POSTPONED to support community health during COVID-19

Snow Mountain Wilderness, Mendocino, CA

Is a Sacred Quest for you?

Where are you in your life?  Where are you drawn to be?

Are you exhausted?  Numb?

Disillusioned? Filled with despair and judgment?  For me, these say it’s time for the wilderness.

Loneliness. Cynicism. Shame.

Racism. Rampant sexism. Gun violence. Political discord and distrust. Ecological devastation.

They all distort our real identities, and they create more trauma. They wear us out so much that we can’t be effective allies for others.  The wilderness rewrites the script.  It reminds us that Nature includes all of us, belonging together.

Or, maybe it’s less negative and more uncertain.  What used to be clear is clouded.  What was solid ground disappeared.  The wilderness re-centers you.

Its beauty and its cycles of death and life rearrange what you see and hear.  It shakes loose life in you.

Or, maybe it’s time to celebrate!  You are making good on your commitment, putting one foot in front of the other, finding a way to live the questions with integrity, cultivating wholeheartedness–even in one corner of your life–and it’s time to honor that death is never the last word.  Indeed, when we celebrate we make room for more to come alive in us and in this world.  The wilderness meets you with awe and wonder.

“The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”  Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness

The wilderness doesn’t care what your spiritual or religious background is. It doesn’t discriminate. A Sacred Quest brings people of diverse beliefs and practices into community and the solitude of wilderness.  We go out to listen for a sacred voice and to face what time it is in our lives.

When our gifts suffocate in old habits and dead relationships, something has to change. To come alive right now, something worn out needs to die.  Wilderness helps you give your attention to these transitions.  They happen no matter how old you are.  The public and obvious ones:  graduating, getting married or fired, having a child, getting sober, losing a parent, retiring, or claiming elderhood.  The more subtle, internal transitions:  finding your voice, courageously grieving, healing trauma, forgiving someone, committing to a cause, or embracing the final years of life.

Whatever their form, these transitions mean letting go and taking on. Mostly, we negotiate them without intention and without support. A wilderness rite of passage changes all of that into a sacred transition. In the wilderness, we see ourselves in the mirror of nature, as one who belongs and is Beloved.  The Mystery, which can never be named completely, enlivens the earth and all its creatures.  It offers the human creature a clear mirror of love and truth. Nature can offer both companionship and a kick in the pants–whatever we need to come alive and help us participate in justice and compassion, here and now.

A Sacred Quest takes us into the wilderness to tell the truth about our lives right now.  The path is unique for all.  For some, it means discerning the Spirit in order to love our neighbors and our God.  For others, it’s claiming our rage as a force for life or being healed by beauty.  For some, they have no idea why, it’s just time to go!  At its core, the Quest is for people to go out into the wilderness to fast and to be in the solitude of nature for four days, so that they might return truly alive.

Word of Mouth

“The time in the desert was one of the most freeing experiences in my life.  My understanding of creation, self, God, politics, community and the human condition was challenged in beautiful ways.”

– Scott Hardin-Nieri, Asheville, NC

Sacred Quest’s Four Stages

Severance Stage
This stage begins as soon as you decide to go on a Sacred Quest.  To apply, write a letter of intention, naming as clearly as possible:  what draws you to a Sacred Quest right now?  What inner and/or outer transition are you experiencing and the current life events surrounding it? Are you marking the end of something, navigating uncertainty, or starting something new?  The letter of intention simply narrates what is true now.  The Severance Stage includes physical, psychological, mental, and spiritual preparations in the months before the quest. Our first three days together as a group complete the severance stage.  You will receive details about them and our whole schedule once you have been received into the program.


Threshold Stage
Beginning at dawn in the wilderness, you step through the threshold circle.  Traditionally, fasting and solitude heighten your exposure to the wilderness for four days. We easily create alternatives to adjust for individual food, shelter, and companionship needs.  The threshold invites personal expression in self-generated rituals, prayers, songs, and other unique ways to embody your intention. The final night some stay awake, consciously dying to the old self and birthing the new life, with the fifth morning’s sunrise.

Reincorporation Stage
We reunite with our questing community–and we eat! We hold space to tell and listen to each story.  Together we discover meaning and new gifts, confirming each one’s passage into a new life stage.  We laugh and journal and celebrate.  And eat!

Integration Stage
This stage has the greatest challenges, calling for the most courage and commitment to what is truly alive. Discovering how to tell your story to family and friends helps you begin to integrate what you learned in the wilderness and to live it out in your daily life.

5th AM sunrise

Word of Mouth

“This Quest was an unparalleled invitation to pare down to my most essential being, to let go of old habits and perceptions, and to ponder the new thing that God is wanting to birth in and through me as I prepare to turn 50. The desert was amazingly rich and deeply nurturing – hardly what the landscape conveys when one first arrives.”

– Sheila Denton, Occidental, CA

Sacred Quest Application
A letter of intent is due by 1 May 2020. Because of the intensity of this experience in the wilderness, intentional preparation is essential for a safe and meaningful process. Therefore, your letter of intention helps to name your purpose and the occasion for claiming it. For questions about the content of the letter, see the description of it in the Severance Stage (above). With quality and safety in mind, we are able to include up to 10 people on the trip. Please submit your letter of intent to Nancy Wiens via email at nsw333(at) We will respond to your letter by 1 June at which time a $350 deposit will be due. No previous backpacking, camping, or outdoor experience is required.  Assistance by the guides is readily available.  Questions?

Program Dates & Costs 
Arrival: Wednesday 12 August, by 7 p.m.
Departure:  Sunday 23 August, after 6 p.m.
Program Cost: $1,250 includes organic meals following the solo time
Additional Costs:  Lodging and meals during the 3-day preparation period.  Transportation to the wilderness area will be shared by the participants.  Some lodging may be available at group rates.  Please inquire about transportation and lodging in your letter of intention.