This past weekend, I escaped to Prairiewoods, a local gem that offers peaceful respite just minutes from I-380 and downtown Cedar Rapids. The Franciscan retreat center offers a variety of non-denominational spiritual retreats, as well as holistic services and overnight accommodations for those looking to step out of their regular life and into a place of peace and contemplation.
I attended a yoga retreat organized by Karen Wachsmuth of Yoga for Your Life, a local teacher who works primarily in the Iyengar yoga tradition, but several of the other women who attended the retreat had also stayed at Prairiewoods other times. They raved about the staff, particularly those who lead other retreats at the property, and said how much they enjoyed it.
Prairiewoods’ event schedule through March is up on its web site, and includes ongoing fitness classes, spiritual spa renewal days, and even business-oriented development classes. The facilities are also available to those who want to go on a private retreat, directed retreat, or even a sabbatical.
For those who stay overnight, the guesthouse accommodations are straightforward and comfortable. Each room has twin beds, a sink, a nook with a clothes bar, a desk and a chair. Adjoining rooms share a bathroom with a toilet and a shower. Each floor of the guesthouse also has minimal kitchen facilities, although meals are served in the Center.
The Center features a lovely gift shop, with books and handmade jewelry and other products that either foster or demonstrate a creative spirit. There is also a lovely meditation room with soaring windows that look out onto the woods, a conference room, and plenty of common space for reading, visiting or playing games.
The weekend I was there, Cedar Rapids was enjoying –20 to –30 degree F wind chills. While I’m not going to claim deep and abiding fondness for any weather that causes your fingers to fall off within a matter of minutes, it was beautiful to sit inside the Center, which is the main building on the property, and stare out at the windswept snow with a mug of sage tea made from herbs grown there in warmer months.
I hope to return in those warmer months, not just to check out the sage being grown for the following winter’s tea, but also to take advantage of the trails and quiet spots on Prairiewoods’ 70 acres.
Genie Gratto also blogs at The Inadvertent Gardener.