Wednesday, May 23, 2012


July 20-21, 2012

Creative and spiritual discoveries in journal writing, collaging, art and contemplation in the new re-purposed shed, Kavanah, or on the Prayer Path

"What is going on in your innermost being
is worthy of your whole love"
-Ranier Maria Rilke    

As many of you know through the Facebook naming contest, we recently re-purposed an old shed on the property of Prairie Pond Woods. The new name, Kavanah , means "the focus, intent and direction of the heart."  Our hope is that as you sit in quietness, listening to the birds and watching the butterflies on milkweed, your heart might be stilled enough to pay attention to your innermost being and hear the voice of the Spirit speak to you personally.  Perhaps God might even "re-purpose" your life there.

During this Summer Retreat, there will be plenty of time to experience solitude at Kavanah...or the swing in the Pine Sanctuary...or the Adirondacks in the Woodland Cathedral.  Participants are encouraged to bring a journal for writing down thoughts, prayers or drawings from prompts that will be given. We'll spend a few hours doing collage...a great way to have fun, relax and perhaps discover something new within your soul.  An easel will also be set up in Kavanah for some fun group artistic expression!

So, gather some of your dearest friends and take a road trip this summer to southern Ohio.  As it is written in the guest book over and over..."I never knew how much I needed this until I got here."     

Note that there are two options for this retreat - a One-day and an Overnight. Friday evening will be a casual time to unwind with fellowship under the stars, a creative activity and simple snacks. We may even venture out for a night hike...

Contact for more info or to register
as an individual or group.

One-day - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm -$45.00 pp (5 max)
Overnight- Friday 7pm - Saturday 4/5pm-$75.00 pp (5 max)
Registration limited to 10
Deposit Deadline:July 4th (easy to remember!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


As I was approaching a nest box that I knew had chickadee eggs in it, this large dragonfly flew past my face and landed right underneath the box. I had been trying to photograph the juvenile phoebe that had JUST fledged, so fortunately I had my camera with me.  

My first guess after looking at a field guide was a gray petaltail (Tachopteryx thoreyi) but I had some doubts due to the patterning.  After posting it on Facebook, Adams Co. naturalist, John Howard confirmed the best guess.  My confusion about the patterning is due to this being a teneral dragonfly, meaning it had recently emerged from its shell or exuvia.  This is a first species for me at Prairie Pond Woods!

Gray Petaltails are rather uncommon, found in only 18 out of 88 Ohio counties, as their preferred habitats are seeps found in woodlands.  No more than 50 feet from where it landed is a spring source, or seep, at the edge of both the woods and the prairie. Perfect habitat, I'd say.  And there is plenty of mud and leaf litter there for the larvae, which  don't require total submersion in water like most larvae. I just planted some swamp milkweed, iris versicolor, marsh marigold and lobelia down there, so I'll be keeping my eye on the area.  I hope to see this beautiful dragonfly in its mature coloration soon.



The sora made such a fool of itself
Flapping up from the cattails and
Staggering in front of me, like a drunk,
Across the boardwalk.

In an instant, it sliced through tall reeds,
vanishing in the swallow of the marsh,
a wake of bright green confetti
closing up behind it.  

First amused, then caught in the curiosity
like an adolescent boy- wanting just to look -
I yearn, yet feel only the alienation.

In the mystery of this ancient exchange,
to hear the pitch of unfamiliar calls,
smell air’s perfume, touch earth’s moist skin,
we offer our willing senses.

All that ever shouts or whispers back, is fear.

Cindy Steffen 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Phase ll - Naming the Re-Purpose Shed!

Friday morning, before the Bird Watching as a Meditation retreat began in the evening, I picked one name from all the submissions that I felt best communicated the purpose (or should I say re-purpose) of the shed as a place for prayer, meditation and hearing the still, small voice of God in our lives. It was a fun process and some of the submissions were very creative, but unfortunately only one could be chosen.

And that GRAND WINNER is....KAVANAH.  Now I know it isn't as clever as some others sent my way, or as silly, like "bovine cow tow now," (?) but it has a meaning that is spot on for Heart by Nature Retreats.  Kavanah is a Hebrew word meaning the focus, intent and direction of the heart. It is most associated with prayer, but can apply to the larger context of life, as well. I not only loved the definition but the sound and spelling of the word, as well.  
When finished, the sign will hang to the left of the door above the chair
So, during the time when some of the women at the retreat decorated bluebird boxes...I painted the sign...or at least the first part of the sign.  There is still some outlining and images to add...but like Kavanah...more embellishing will come with Phase lll!  And I'm still trying to decide if it should be Kavanah Place, Shed, Niche, etc.  To Be Determined later, as they say :)

Three of the Bird Watching as a Meditation participants, Linda, Carmella and Julie holding the sign
and searching for the elusive Yellow-breasted Chat!
By the way, the winning name was submitted by Marty Davids from the Chicago, IL area. Thanks, Marty...the book will arrive soon!  And thanks to all of you who took time out to use your brain power and send me ideas!