Cancer Care and Recovery: Patients Discover Spiritual Health Care at Northwest Ecology Retreat CenterMonday, July 30th, 2007
Cancer patients and others with health challenges say visiting the site heals and nurtures their recovery and well-being, and connects them to a sense of spirituality and nature that buoys their spirit
WHIDBEY ISLAND â€“ When visitors facing the challenge of cancer come to walk the paths of the 72-acre Earth Sanctuary (www.earthsanctuary.org) nature reserve and retreat center just north of Seattle, Celia Sullivan, Earth Sanctuaryâ€™s caretaker, is struck by how often theyâ€™re changed by the end of their visit. Gone are the signs of stress and worry, replaced by expressions of peace, openness, even tranquility. She has been told repeatedly by cancer patients that Earth Sanctuary, open daily to the public, has given them a renewed sense of inner peace, even a new perspective on their care and recovery. â€œWhen I am doing a walk through with them, it is so much fun to see them gradually relax. In about 20 minutes they have a grin on their faces and are ready to settle in to the peaceful healing nature of the place,â€ said Sullivan, who helps manage Earth Sanctuaryâ€™s day-to-day operations. The site has proven so valuable for people with cancer that Providence Regional Cancer Partnership of Everett takes groups of cancer survivors to Earth Sanctuary every quarter. Other Puget Sound hospitals routinely hand out brochures on Earth Sanctuary to patients.
The Providence Regional Cancer Partnership is the name of the brand new, state of the art, cancer center that opened in Everett on June 18th. The Partnership will offer a wide variety of integrative medicine practices including meditation, yoga, qigong, massage and acupuncture. â€œThe Earth Sanctuary retreats are a natural extension of these healing programsâ€, says Dawn Dickson, a social worker with the Providence Partnership. â€œThe visits are a â€˜soul eventâ€™.â€ â€œIt allows them to get in touch with nature,â€ Dickson said during one such walk. â€œThe land facilitates that. Theyâ€™re listening deeply to nature and their own hearts. I am so pleased to have found Earth Sanctuary. I truly love the relationship we have with Earth Sanctuary. I look forward to future retreats.â€
Adds the founder of the site, eco-artist Chuck Pettis: â€œOne woman even told us that Earth Sanctuary was one of her â€˜doctors.â€™ Iâ€™m deeply moved and gratified that we can provide this place of healing and refuge for those seeking it.â€The inspiration for Earth Sanctuary came to Pettis during a spiritual retreat to India. He had been mulling over how best to help nurture the earth and her people at a time of great ecological and spiritual challenges when he conceived of the idea.
Working with leading ecological restoration experts, aided by numerous volunteers and ecology students from the University of Washington, Pettis has transformed 72 acres of formerly hard-logged land into a thriving Northwest eco-system. Along the two miles of easy paths that thread the site are a number of works of non-denominational spiritual art. They include a labyrinth, patterned after those of the great cathedrals, a massive stone circle, Tibetan prayer wheels, a megalithic dolmen, large standing stones, and a Native American medicine wheel.Earth Sanctuary is believed to represent the largest ecological restoration every underaken by a private individual.There are several ways for cancer patients or anyone else seeking solitude and healing to experience Earth Sanctuary. One is through a day visit. A $7 admission fee helps defray maintenance costs. No dogs are allowed out of respect for Earth Sanctuaryâ€™s bird and wildlife.
Another is through a stay at the immaculate, two-bedroom retreat house on the grounds of Earth Sanctuary. Rates range from $50 to $60 a night for one person, depending on the time of week. Additional people are half-price.
Earth Sanctuary is a nature reserve and retreat center located on South Whidbey Island 100 minutes from Seattle. Earth Sanctuary is open every day of the year during daylight hours. For driving directions, visit: http://www.earthsanctuary.org/p_directions.php. For information on the Earth Sanctuary Retreat Center, contact Celia Sullivan at 360-321-5465.