I’m sitting on the old footbridge that leads to my cabin in the woods. Beaver Creek passes silently below. Ducks fly overhead. Ferns, cardinal flowers and moss grow amid grey rocks at the water’s edge. Spiders wander over my notebooks, which are spread out on the bridge’s rough planks, pages held open by stones.

This is the place that inspired this book. By the creek and in the forest, I discovered a rich inner dimension I didn't know existed. Far from my city life and work-obsessed routines, I began to know what gives my life meaning. And to recognize the value of protecting a divine spark, though I’m not religious, and of amplifying the extraordinary—nature, spirit, art, creative thinking—in impoverished times. A retreat means removing yourself from society, to a quiet place where moments are strung like pearls, and after long days apart in inspiring surroundings, you return home refreshed and with a new sense of what you want to do with your life.

In the fraught modern era, you’d think our timeless human desire to retreat would feel more urgent than ever. Yet taking a step back has become an act of 21st century rebellion when disengaging, even briefly, is seen by many as self-indulgent, unproductive and anti-social. But to retreat is as basic a human need as being social. To withdraw from the everyday is about making breathing space for what illuminates a life.

Table des matières

  • Part I — Mapping the Ground: Of Sacred Groves, Inner Mountains and The Art of Retreat

    • An Introduction
    • Green Cathedral
    • The Art of Retreat


  • Part II — The Old Ways: Of Hermit Caves, Monasteries and Pilgrim Paths

    • A Hut of One’s Own
    • Monasticism for Moderns
    • Pilgrim Ways


  • Part III — The New Deities: Nature and Culture: Of Forest Cabins, National Parks and Creative Sanctuaries

    • I Will Go to the Wild Woods
    • Artists, Writers, Creative Thinkers, Dreamers
    • The Inner Temple
    • Of White Rooms, Unified Hearts, and Empty Fields


  • Epilogue: June 8, 2020


La description

Kirsteen MacLeod looks at the history and contemporary ways of retreat, and how we can restore meaning to our lives in an increasingly secular world through deliberate action.


  • Winner, IPPY Awards 2022


“Anyone looking for a respite from everyday busyness or struggling through quarantine will be inspired by MacLeod’s fresh perspective on the benefits of solitude. ” — Publishers Weekly

“Narrated with a touch of warmth that is balanced with the detachment that comes from self-awareness and solitude, the book’s pace is smooth, and its diction is beautiful … In Praise of Retreat issues a deep, thoughtful, and experienced invitation to one’s mind, body, and spirit. ” — Foreword Reviews

“MacLeod’s writing is clear, and her love for quiet, green spaces shines through in lyrical passages about life at her cabin. Her curiosity and passion make for engaging reading throughout the historical sections of each chapter … It’s a book worth reading, one that would make a solid addition to a cottage bookshelf, to be pulled down and riffled through by lamplight on quiet summer nights. ” — Quill & Quire

“At first glance a peaceful read that might yet be useful in helping us make the most of this unexpected alone time. ” — Toronto Star

In Praise of Retreat — part memoir, part nature essay, part guidebook — is thoughtful, thoroughly researched and often refreshingly wry. ” — Shelf Awareness