Author Archives: Valerie Brown, JD, MA, ACC

Ghost Ranch: A “Thin Place”

Sacred, spiritual, deeply inspirational places have voices. They say: ‘Pause, notice, breathe.’ They pull us out of mundane preoccupations and into timelessness, awe, and wonder. Sometimes they are stripped down, elemental landscapes, where we feel an immediate connection with the land and with Spirit. From time immemorial, people have journeyed to these places to pray, to be, to be transformed from the inside out.

I came to Ghost Ranch, 21,000 acres of wilderness in northern New Mexico, in the United States, in the summer of 1978. I tooled around Albuquerque on the back of my boyfriend’s motorcycle, exploring Santa Fe, Taos, and surroundings and came upon the red rocks and the painted desert of Ghost Ranch made famous by the iconic American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe. The ranch touched a spark, something inexpressible within me. I remember feeling an internal shift and stripping away of everything except the land, an intimacy with nature—down to bare essentials.

Since then, I’ve returned to the ranch as a place of renewal, beauty, and healing. I’ve worked at Ghost Ranch as a farm hand, planting 40 pounds of garlic, studying herbs with a local curandero, and leading spiritual retreats for hundreds of people, sharing the enchantment of this 21,000 acre wilderness ranch.

Ghost Ranch is a place that gives voice to ‘your whole self’, to ponder the big questions of life purpose, meaning, and direction. Ghost Ranch is a place of attunement to the land, the people, the mesas, deserts, arroyos, and canyons, offering the promise of prayer, paradox, and possibility.

The quote above comes from “Eagle Poem,” by Joy Harjo from her book In Mad Love and War (1990).

Register now to join the remarkable SDI spiritual journey at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico on November 10-15, 2019 and experience the essence (and the opportunity) that this remarkable area presents.

Retreat: A World Within Our Reach

“….Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is…Continue Reading

Because of Them, We Can

“Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On their shoulders, we stand. We step forward because of the vision, the life, and the legacy, of people like, Rev.Dr. Martin…Continue Reading

The Mindful, Reflective School Leader

The effectiveness of mindfulness practices on students and teachers is supported by hundreds of empirical studies and many organizations specialize in helping teachers and students bring mindfulness into the classroom and other learning environments. However, my experience in co-writing The Mindful School Leader: Practices for Your Leadership and School (Corwin, 2014) is that school leaders…Continue Reading