Ring Lake Ranch seminars consist of four evening sessions during the week, usually 90 minutes in length. The style and content of the seminars change with each leader. Seminar leaders are usually happy to talk with guests outside of the seminars, but the topics are presented entirely within the evening sessions, to ensure that all guests have a chance to participate. Like all activities at Ring Lake Ranch, save cabin cleaning and helping with meal clean-up, the Ranch seminars are optional for guests.
Every year, the Ranch relies on volunteers, both individuals and groups, to clean, do major repair and upkeep projects, open the kitchen, and anything else needed to prepare for guests. Please consider joining us for a week of work, fun, and fellowship!
Our roster of volunteers is currently full for this week.
Each year, we are pleased to welcome young men and their adult leaders from two Catholic high schools for special private retreats. Even though these retreats are closed, we still have volunteer opportunities available during these weeks. Please contact Andy Blackmun for more information about volunteering.
In the 1800’s Wyoming’s Sheep Eater Indians were highly respected by other Shoshone bands because they lived high up among the powerful spirits of the cannibal owls, the rocky-skin ghosts, and the water ghosts. These supernatural entities are found among the petroglyphs that surround Ring Lake Ranch. Larry Loendorf will focus on the Sheep Eater Indians, their acquisition and use of the spiritual forces associated with the petroglyphs on Ring Lake Ranch.
Loendorf is founder and Director of the Sacred Sites Foundation, a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist who has done ground-breaking work on Plains Indian rock art and the 'Dinwoody Style' petroglyphs for which the Torrey Valley is famous.
For the Crow, the Greater Yellowstone Region was a homeland alive with the presence of the sacred - their own Creation Story takes place along the banks of the Yellowstone, or as the Crow called it, the Elk River. Grant Bulltail will focus on the Crow concept of the sacred energy - the creative powers of the universe that stemmed from the Ultimate Source and were manifest in the relationship Crow Indians had with the natural world and with their spirit helpers or 'energy fathers'.
Grant Bulltail is a spiritual leader who is a Pipe Carrier for the Crow's Sacred Tobacco Society, a former rodeo rider and professional cowboy, retired marine, and professor of Crow Culture and History at Little Bighorn College. One of the last of the traditional Crow story tellers, Bulltail is currently Visiting Professor of Native American Life and Folklore at Utah State University in Logan.
Larry Loendorf and Grant Bulltail
While human fear of the dark is so well-established that "darkness" has become a synonym for everywhere we do not want to go, plenty of us are called to keep moving even when we cannot see the way ahead. In spite of everything we have been taught, learning to walk in the dark puts us on the sacred way of unknowing, where there are fewer obstacles to encountering the God we did not make up.
This week's program will include some experience of the actual dark along with discussion of what is sometimes called "the negative way" by writers as diverse as Meister Eckhart, John of the Cross, Dorothee Soelle, and Gerald May.
Barbara Brown Taylor is the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in rural northeast Georgia. An Episcopal priest since 1984, she is the author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestseller An Altar in the World. Her first memoir, Leaving Church, met with widespread critical acclaim, winning a 2006 Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. Taylor and her husband Ed live on a working farm in the foothills of the Appalachians with wild turkeys, red foxes, two old Quarter horses and too many chickens.
* Please note - this session is currently full.
Ring Lake’s surroundings amid the Wind River Mountains intrigue us all. Why is Wyoming composed of ancient granites, former sea-beds, up-and-coming mountains, and even a modern volcano? What plants and animals live here today?
How do they adapt to these environments and each other? What evidence shows that Ring Lake’s early human inhabitants revered this area as early as 6,000 years ago? Our session includes hikes and strolls in this dramatic and intriguing landscape, as well as illustrated evening sessions. In meeting your natural world face-to-face, you will discover many links to your personal lives and homes. Families are welcome.
Alan and Jeanie Mebane came to the Rockies after graduation from Duke University and the University of Nebraska. Alan was a National Park ranger/naturalist for 31 years including three years at Grand Teton NP and ten years as Chief Interpreter of Yellowstone NP.
Jeanie has been a naturalist with both the National Park Service and US Forest Service. She currently authors children’s books and articles on natural history. They spend summers in Wyoming, have volunteered at Ring Lake Ranch many times and enjoy sharing its wonders.
* Please note - this session is currently full, but we would be happy to add you to our waiting list.
Jeanie and Alan Mebane
The book of Job has often been a reflecting pool where succeeding generations have looked to see the urgent issues of their own time mirrored in this enigmatic book. In recent decades this engagement with Job has often taken place in art–especially drama and film. In this session we will look at the engagement with Job in two critical periods.
The aftermath of World War II saw an outpouring of dramas and poetic works (most famously, MacLeish’s J.B., but also Elie Wiesel’s The Trial of God), most of which were post religious or deeply alienated. In the twenty-first century, the PBS Holocaust film, “God on Trial,” echoed some of Wiesel’s ambiguous protest-faith orientation, while a different vision of Job is represented in Terrence Malick’s extraordinary film Tree of Life.
Carol Newsom is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University. A scholar of the book of Job and of the Dead Sea Scrolls, she is also teaches a course on the Bible and the Care of the Earth and is interested in the formation of religious responses to the impact of climate change.
The Bible is full of embarrassing, offensive, problematic texts that present serious interpretive challenges for contemporary Christian faith and practice. Should they be repudiated? Discarded? Silenced? Or are there perhaps more effective and faithful ways of handling them?
This session will tackle the importance of engaging difficult texts directly, with the expectation that we may encounter the living God in our conversation with them. It will provide the opportunity to wrestle with such texts, to consider interpretive strategies for engaging them with integrity, and to reflect on the authority of Scripture.
Frances Taylor Gench is the Herbert Worth and Annie H. Jackson Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), she served as a member of the PC(USA) General Assembly’s Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church. Her recent publications include Faithful Disagreement: Wrestling with Scripture in the Midst of Church Conflict, Back to the Well: Women’s Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels and Encounters with Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of John.
Frances Taylor Gench
What did Augustine mean by saying "they who sing, pray twice?" We will explore questions of music, poetry and theology in a range of hymns, psalms and spirituals, paying attention to little known treasures as well as recent surprises.
Don Saliers is the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship, Emeritus at Candler School of Theology. An accomplished musician, theologian, and scholar of liturgics, and a United Methodist pastor, he is the author of numerous books on the relationship between theology and worship practices, including A Song to Sing, a Life to Live and Worship Come To Its Senses.
The desert fathers and mothers of ancient Egypt believed that love is the goal of the Christian life, and life in the desert vastly contributed to it. In our time together we will reflect and meditate on some of the most wonderful, delightful, and life giving insights that come out of their experience. These are folks every modern Christian needs to know!
Dr. Roberta Bondi is retired from a distinguished teaching career with Candler School of Theology at Emory University, where she was Professor of Church History. She holds degrees from Southern Methodist University and Oxford University, and is the author of several books, including Memories of God and Houses.
Her expertise in ancient Christian teachers and practices of prayer combines with her warm sense of humor to make her a highly regarded presenter. Married to Richard Bondi, she is mother of two children, a grandmother, companion to Curly the Bichon, and a passionate weaver, spinner, and knitter. Her one regret is that narrow-minded land use covenants prevent her from raising her own sheep.
“Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track . . . of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity . . . that God makes himself know to each of us most powerfully and personally” (Frederick Buechner).
From the earliest cave paintings to digitized text in electronic files, humans have always kept journals. And for centuries, journals have been an important tool for spiritual growth. During this session, we will find perspectives that cross time and tradition, plus plenty of practical help to: guide our spiritual journey with writing, find approaches that are right for each of us, recognize and understand our inner dialogues, and make our journals an avenue for prayer and meditation.
Carl Koch has been a writing teacher for forty years and a journal keeper for 30 of those. Author of over thirty books on adult spiritual growth and on writing, including Journalkeeping: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice, Carl has also served as a high school and university teacher and administrator and senior editor for St. Mary’s Press. He holds master degrees in religious education, spirituality, and English and a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan. We also know him as emeritus director of Ring Lake Ranch.
Ring Lake Ranch is pleased to host an advanced Enneagram workshop and retreat led by Sandra Smith, a certifited Enneagram teacher. While anyone is welcome to attend, we do ask that all attendees have a working knowledge of the Enneagram. For more information, contact Sandra at email@example.com or 828-684-2339.
* Please note - this session is currently full, but we would be happy to add you to our waiting list.