Tending the Harvest

The Sacred Work of Grief and Gratitude

A residential grief retreat

 St. Francis Springs Prayer Center
Stoneville, NC
September 13 – 15, 2024

"The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give." -Francis Weller

Amidst the golden tapestry of leaves rustled by the autumnal breeze, we extend a heartfelt invitation to 20 participants for Tending the Harvest, a transformative retreat that delves into the profound symbolism of this season. Autumn, a paradox of plenty and decline, beckons us to engage in the sacred dance of grief and gratitude, mirroring the intricate cycle of life itself.

In the symphony of nature, autumn unfolds as a tapestry of dualities, where ripening, harvest, and abundance intertwine with whispers of decay, decline, and the inevitable touch of death.

At the heart of autumn lies the cornucopia, an ancient symbol embodying abundance and generosity. It speaks of the earth’s overflowing bounty, reminding us to recognize and express gratitude for the boundless blessings that surround us. And yet, synonymous with letting go, autumn prompts a release akin to the falling leaves, offering solace in the understanding that, like the trees that bud anew, we too have the opportunity for renewal. ​​

As we bid farewell to summer, the autumnal landscape becomes a sanctuary for grounding and introspection. Within this season of preparation, both tangible and ethereal, we are summoned to craft spaces of refuge and renewal, recognizing the essential need for emotional and spiritual sustenance.

“Grief is praise, because it is
the natural way love honors what it misses.”
-Martin Préchtel

Within the immersive embrace of our “pop-up village,” we will unravel the healing power of being heard and received in our grief, discovering how grief practices serve as nourishment for soul expression, growth, and connection.

Framed through the lens of Francis Weller’s gates of grief, we will explore the mysterious interplay between grief and joy. We will also delve into the understanding that while a sense of gratitude is inherently available to us all, it must be actively practiced to be truly accessible.

Despite the challenges presented by our current culture of fear, anxiety, and scarcity, practicing gratitude becomes the fertile ground where a spiritual gratitude muscle can take root, grow, and strengthen. This practice transcends spiritual bypassing; it embodies the work of a mature adult capable of establishing a harmonious relationship with their grief.

Over our three-days together, we will explore:
• Breathwork and body-centered practices to deepen our trust in our emotional and body wisdom
• Therapeutic writing, inquiry, and small group work to assist in opening to our stories of loss
• Personal and community rituals to honor and give voice to our grief
• Somatic practices to open ourselves to the power of gratitude and joy

As we practice the courage to be with the authenticity of our hearts, we enhance our capacity to embody a vibrant sense of aliveness and compassion. The beauty of this work is its capacity to expand into our communities and the world. This is a form of soul activism and what we are called to embody during these critical times.

We will begin at 4pm on Friday, September 13 and conclude at 3pm on Sunday, September 15. To cultivate trust and containment, participation for the entire weekend is essential.



-$545 for double occupancy with view of woods and all meals included.

-$445 for a commuter rate (includes all meals)


Registration will close August 15 at 5pm (or when the retreat reaches capacity).

*If attending this retreat creates a significant financial hardship and you seek a scholarship, please fill out this form. There are a few scholarship opportunities available at 25-50% of tuition. For scholarships, we prioritize applicants from historically marginalized communities, first responders, veterans, those in the helping professions, and students. Scholarship applications are due by July 1st.

Expectations we hold for our participants

• We are social justice advocates that aim to create a space of support and care for all who gather. If you enroll in this retreat, our expectation is that you are wholeheartedly in support of and in alignment with creating a respectful space for people across a broad range of identities (LGBTQ, BIPOC, etc.)  Please register with this orientation in your heart.
• This 3-day retreat and ritual is not a passive teaching program but a participatory communal space where we ask people to show up for each other and for the soul of the community. Please register with this orientation in your heart

About the location

Sitting on 140 acres with walking trails, gardens, and grottos, St. Francis Springs embodies Franciscan values of justice, contemplation, and interfaith dialogue. As a Franciscan ministry, they are committed to the work of justice and peace in the world, promoting the value and dignity of every person and working to alleviate the suffering of those who are marginalized and oppressed. Franciscans believe that justice is essential to a life of faith and that we are called to be peacemakers as we seek to create a more just and equitable world. Please note that Christian iconography is present throughout the center, which may be triggering for some participants.




What past grief retreaters have said about our retreats:


"Summer and Samantha's Grief retreat was everything and more than desired after reading Dr. Francis Weller's book; The Wild Edge of Sorrow. Don't hesitate to book, seriously! The retreat was warm, transformative, heart opening, all the things.... Our tears and joys felt cradled in community that is just so missing sometimes in our world."   Susie Cooper, LCPC, Maryland

"I cannot say enough about how powerful this experience was for me!! Hands down, it was the most powerful engagement of my entire life! Our culture deals with death/grief/loss/rage COMPLETELY WRONG and we, as practitioners, instructors, teachers, mentors, families, parents, etc must do our part to help spread the word that this experience (which we all have) doesn't have to be contained in such a negative, isolated, shameful space. I was definitely taught that this past weekend and now I'm telling everyone I know! "-AR

"It was a beautifully transformative experience for me. Summer and Samantha created a warm, loving, safe space. I am forever grateful for the insight I received and will integrate into my life. I felt loved and accepted by over a dozen people that I just met, and it feels like that is how the world should be. Everywhere we go, we should feel loved and accepted. I connected to some patterns and deep seated grief that are now in my awareness and I can observe them and work with them. I look forward to more retreats... oh and Haw River was the perfect setting. The food was incredible and the staff, warm and accommodating, and the surroundings so serene and full of life." -KP

"This retreat was so far outside of my comfort zone and I had no idea what to expect..I will be forever grateful that I took this leap of faith. My experience was absolutely amazing. My life has been changed for the better with the tools I took away from this weekend. There are not words to describe the love and bond I have with this whole group. Communal grief is an eye opening moment, one that I wish everyone in the world could have. Samantha and Summer are wonderful guides for this journey!" -AH

"Thank you for a truly outstanding retreat. The rich variety of ways you engaged us, your willingness to be vulnerable in our midst, and especially the way you trusted us to become a learning community for one another, was a great gift. You offered a very deep dive into a transforming pool and it seemed to me that all fifteen of us plunged right in!"-JB

"I’m so grateful for it. You created a safe pop-up village in which to explore parts of ourselves we may not feel comfortable with. I struggle with not feeling heard and seen. In that environment it almost felt as though that didn’t matter - that being being seen and heard was implicit and I was free to be myself without judgment." -RBH

"If you have an intuitive sense that you need a little help processing your sorrow and/or your rage, this is a beautiful way to go. The facilitators create so much space in such a short amount of time for participants to soften and go deep in a setting that is safe and deeply informed by a culture of consent. In a short weekend we went from being strangers to being parts of each other's hearts. A truly magical experience that is a powerful tool for restoring our humanity." -Basil

"I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to read Weller's work and then the opportunity to attend a retreat by amazing facilitators trained in his work--it is so important that you are doing this work in the Southeast. I was awe-struck at how amazing the attendees were at holding each other's vulnerability and the deep trust-building that Samantha, Summer, and Beth were able to enact to cultivate a safe sense of community in just a weekend."- CS

Our Statement on Diversity and Cultural Appropriation:

As facilitators, our intention is to create an inclusive space that honors all cultures and ethnicities. However, as white-bodied, cisgender women, we recognize the privilege and systemic advantages inherent in our identities. We acknowledge the racial lenses and gendered systems that have shaped our experiences and perspectives, understanding that they differ significantly from those of BIPOC individuals. We are dedicated to actively listening, learning, and unlearning, and we are committed to ongoing growth in this area.

In our work, we approach any rituals, songs, or practices from non-dominant cultures with deep respect and gratitude. They have been shared and gifted with blessings to aid in our collective healing. We are committed to acknowledging and honoring the sources of these practices, recognizing the responsibility that comes with engaging with them. May our collective grief cry serve as a catalyst for change and liberation, as we work towards dismantling oppressive systems and creating a world where all beings can thrive.

To learn more, click here…

-Two highly trained trauma informed facilitators/teachers and a space holder who is trained and practicing spiritual director.

-Tuition for the weekend

-2 nights lodging in double occupancy rooms

- Dinner on Friday,  3 meals on Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Snacks, coffee, and tea.

Commuters : Dinner on Friday, lunch and dinner on Saturday, brunch on Sunday, light snacks (breakfast on Saturday and Sunday not included).

Friday, September 13th 4pm-Sunday, September 15th 3pm.

Event is located at the lovely  St. Francis Springs Prayer Center. 

477 Grogan Rd.  Stoneville, North Carolina 27048

Accommodations are double occupancy rooms. When not meeting in our ritual space, the grounds have beautiful trails to hike as well as a labyrinth.

The closest airport to us is Greensboro (GSO). Participants flying in can also look into flying into Charlotte or Raleigh, NC..

$545 for double occupancy room (includes retreat, lodging, and all meals and snacks) 

-Commuter Rate: $445 (includes dinner on Friday, Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday brunch)

Registration will close on August 15th, 2024.

When registering, we ask that you are crystal clear on your intentions and commitment and consider your reservation and payment as a wholehearted YES to being here. We understand that things can come up that interrupt plans and schedules, but we also know from experience that when we prioritize this sacred work, we will move heaven and earth to honor our grief’s calling. Spaces to work with grief in community and through ritual are rare in modern western culture. In our retreats, we seek to create a community of shared values and embodied respect for the preciousness of this work.

We do, however, understand that some things fall outside of our control, and to this end we offer the following:
A 50% refund if you need to cancel before July 1.
A 25% refund if you need to cancel before August 1.
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer refunds after August 1.

Due to the sheer number of cancellations and requests to move retreats as of late, we can no longer offer the option of forwarding tuition to a future retreat. This updated cancellation policy serves you, as participants in this sacred work, by honoring the time, heart, and soul that we, as facilitators, put into creating supportive and transformative spaces for deep connection and healing.

We are now using the secure site Ticket Tailor for all of our registrations and payment.  Please use this link to register and pay.

  • Please bring a water bottle.
  • A journal and pen.
  • Items for our grief altar that are sacred and symbolic for you.
  • Weather will be warm (70's to 80's as highs). Wear layers for when we are inside and comfortable clothes. (elastic pants, cotton shirt, jacket, etc).
  • If wanting to walk on the trails and explore the trails consider bringing some bug spray.
  • Favorite snack(s) for your room and any other creature comforts you may want to nurture yourself.

Masking is optional, but discouraged given the nature of this work where we all rely on non-verbal cues to communicate and find safety. We do not request vaccination or testing proper to arrival. However, if you are symptomatic within ten days prior to the program start date we ask that you please ensure that you are not contagious before arriving. This is self-monitoring agreement and we trust in your personal integrity. Thank you.


Samantha DiRosa, MFA, RYT, is a university art professor, yoga instructor, ritualist, and budding art therapist based in Greensboro, North Carolina.  She brings 20 years of facilitation and teaching experience in the realm of higher-education, alongside an artist’s sensitivity and depth of insight, to her work with groups.  Having trained with Francis Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow, and Joanna Macy, author of Active Hope, she believes in the power of ritual and ceremony to transmute sorrow and loss into the healing of individuals, communities, and the Earth.  Samantha lives with her daughter and her pack of non-human companions in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, the occupied lands of the Keyauwee and Saura Peoples. When she is not teaching, she maintains a small private coaching / consulting practice and spends time connecting with her Celtic and Sicilian ancestral roots.

To learn more about Samantha click here

Summer Estes MA, LCMHC,

is a lifelong student passionate about creating transformative spaces. She is a wife, mother, licensed psychotherapist, breath facilitator, Enneagram teacher, mystic, inquisitive seeker, intuitive healer, soul activist, and founder of Embodied-Intelligence. Summer integrates perennial wisdom teachings with contemplative, somatic, and mindfulness practices, engaging in the practice of inquiry as a student of A.H. Almaas Diamond Approach. She loves facilitating learning and healing environments where participants can connect with what is alive and authentic within.

With over 18 years of experience in leading workshops, groups, and retreats in the healing arts, Summer has served on the faculty of The Second Breath Center, a wisdom school in Greensboro, NC. She is drawn to embodied wisdom and has delved into teachings of embodiment experts, indigenous wisdom, and breathwork. Summer's journey has been enriched by diverse teachers and writings of mystics from various traditions, shaping her understanding and approach to her work. Some of her teachers include, Francis Weller, Dr. Tara Brach, Malidoma Some, Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, and Dr. Gabor Mate.

To learn more about Summer click here and her statement on grief tending click here.

Beth Farrand is a spiritual coach, group facilitator, breath facilitator, retreat leader, homebody-adventurer, flower lover, artist, and mom to 3 sons & 1 golden retriever named Millie. Beth is a graduate of the Shalem Institute’s Spiritual Guidance Program and has been a spiritual coach for 13 years. She loves holding presence and space for others as they seek to listen to their own inner wisdom.  Beth brings her decades of experience with internal work, her supportive presence and her ability to hear beneath the surface, to her sessions, groups and retreats. When she is not coaching or facilitating, you will find Beth hiking and exploring nature around her home in the beautiful North Carolina mountains.

How to Apply

  1. Register and pay now to reserve your spot!
  2. If you have any questions please contact us.

"Summer undoubtedly has a knowledge base, deeply intuitive nature, and wisdom that has allowed me to become a believer of what the enneagram offers and promotes, which I believe is healing. I am thankful for the ways in which Summer provided me with the skills and tools to really see myself and begin to trust myself."

—Genesis Adams

"I highly recommend Summer's classes. I really value her ability to incorporate practice into her workshops and to foster open and co-creative spaces. Summer has a great way of inviting presence, and has helped me to dig into what I am noticing and use it to enhance my understanding of myself and my journey."


"Over the past 5 years I have participated in workshops and classes, in person and virtually, led by Summer. She has an amazing spirit that creates a sacred space for discovery, trust, vulnerability and acceptance. My spiritual journey and discipleship have been fueled with her by my side."

—Julie Nelson

Awareness of interpersonal relationships is in part a gift to us as we seek to understand. Getting better acquainted in who we are, how we function, where we see ourselves in relationships, I think gives us a healthier perspective of humanity. I have found that this enneagram workshop is the bow that unwraps this gift.

—Chaplain Abel Moran


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