In this autoethnography I narrate the story of my retreat experiences and spiritual practices at the Well Retreat Center over a span of two decades. The Well is both a geographical place in the Isle of Wright County in Virginia, and a metaphor for a spiritual journey into the inner Well of our being. I chronicle an amalgam of 35 retreats in one 24-hour retreat, narrating stories about: leaving home and settling in, dreaming and awakening, sunrise and sunset, walking in nature and walking the narrow path, discovering life behind a cracked door, and uncovering the mystery that lies at the bottom of a Well. I punctuate each story with questions for the reader to contemplate, inviting them to go deeper into their own inner Well, to contact and connect with the life-giving waters that nourish our growth, sustain our hope, and orient our lives toward loving compassion. Finally, I address issues of validity, limitations, and future research.
Spiritual Practices, Retreats, Autoethnography
This work is dedicated to retreatants that came to The Well in search of life-giving water, and to all the people that served at The Well, especially the first caretakers, Sister Nancy Healy and Diane Weymouth, and the last caretakers, Tom and Linda Ashe. A poster version of this paper was presented at the 15th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, Urbana-Champaign, May 2019.
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Recommended APA Citation
Baesler, E. J. (2020). Journeying into the Well: An Autoethnography of 35 Retreats Across Two Decades. The Qualitative Report, 25(6), 1579-1598. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2020.4442