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The New Art of the Retreat Festival

teepee with silhouettes

Courtesy Restival and @kikisunshi

A few days before the Harvest Moon in September, I flew to Flagstaff, Arizona, and was greeted inside the terminal by a limo driver holding a sign for an event called Restival. We left the airport and drove northwest for about 40 minutes before turning onto a dirt road into the vast desert dotted with cinder cones. We then wound for miles toward what seemed the middle of nowhere, but then my driver pointed out Roden Crater, the cinder cone that artist James Turrell has been sculpting for decades into a celestial observatory.  This is a land of grand horizons and grand ideas. We then turned into what’s called Gateway Ranch, which began inauspiciously with an abandoned old school bus, but I noticed that my driver was now excited. She had taken early retirement from a government job in San Diego, bought a condo on the golf course in Flagstaff, became a Reiki master, and drove a limo part time to get out of the house. She had been ferrying people out here for a couple of days and was no longer worried about getting lost. As we rounded a wall of steel shipping containers and the Restival scene unfolded, …

Stephen Kiesling is the editor in chief of Spirituality & Health magazine. Caroline Jones is offering an early bird discount to S&H readers. For more information, go to and use the code SPIRITHEALTH to redeem the 20 percent discount. Space is limited.

Stephen Kiesling is a former Olympic rower, cocreator of the Nike Cross Training System, and editor at large of Spirituality & Health. A 35th anniversary edition of The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence has just been published.

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