Suggested Donation
  • Deep Writing - Single – $570.00
  • Deep Writing - Shared – $980.00

The suggested donation is the minimal amount needed to help us meet expenses. Those blessed with more may wish to contribute more and those who have less may give less.

Date & Time Details: Monday, November 13 - Friday, November 17, 2023
Check-in from 1:30 - 5:00 pm.
Supper is served at 5:30 pm.
The first session begins at 7:00 pm.
The final session concludes by 11:30 am.
Check-out is after the midday meal.

Location: Spirit Center at the Monastery of St. Gertrude

Address: 465 Keuterville Rd.Cottonwood, ID 83522

Contact: Tiffany McWilliams

Email us about program

Deep Writing: Excavating the Inner Life

With Cheryl Johnson and Tim Oberholzer

November 13 - 17, 2023

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.

from “Digging” by Seamus Heaney


We are archaeological sites. Personal artifacts buried in the rich humus of our lives long to tell their stories. These objects are sacred vessels, “tools” for listening, witnessing, and healing. Artifacts preserve “moments” and invite us below the surface where truth lies. Like archaeologists, we will dust off our objects and with our trowels of creative seeing, record, restore, and redeem them.

Writing will be our “digging” practice. We’ll show up and see what we uncover. You don’t need to be “a writer” to attend this retreat. So, let go of that lizard on your shoulder and get ready to go on “a dig” with us!

Each morning we will focus on a different object in a workshop. Afternoons are spacious, giving you time to breathe, write, and explore. In the evenings, we gather in “salon” and continue the discovery process archaeologists (with pens) use; we will excavate words and stories.



Cheryl Johnson
Now that I’m retired from teaching, when someone asks, what do you do?  I answer, Write, as a spiritual practice.  The reaction is usually, Oh, you’re a writer then.  Yes and no.  I don’t write for tenure now, or my name in lights.  I contemplate world and word, waiting for a spark to light and invite the experience of awakening.  For me, writing seeks to engage a deeper current in life, not just the horizontal hubbub, but a vertical exchange that informs it even when the ember seems buried deep in ashes.  I seek to honor the mystery of Creation,…
Learn more about Cheryl Johnson
Tim Oberholzer
Tim Oberholzer directs Spirit Center, coordinates facilitated retreats, and is a spiritual director. Tim spent five and a half years as a Trappist monk at New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa.  Deep prayer and reflection led him to leave the community prior to making solemn profession. He moved to Idaho to be closer to his parents, discovering the Monastery of St. Gertrude through a job posting for the innkeeper position at the Inn at St. Gertrude. Tim earned a business degree from the University of Notre Dame, studied philosophy and theology at the University of St. Thomas, and completed the…
Learn more about Tim Oberholzer