Examples of recent workshops – more to come!

Christian Teaching on Tanera Mor

Students on Tanera, 2014

Christian teaches almost every January in the Winter Studies program at Williams College, MA. She also teaches the occasional workshop for faculty and/or staff at Smith College and Hampshire College, and at the Zen Mountain Monastery in Upstate New York. For the past five years, she co-taught a weeklong course on the Scottish island of Tanera, with her friend, the textile artist, Jan Kilpatrick.

Christian also teaches occasional workshops by request, most often on poetry and non-fiction, with a focus on creativity and slowing down. These can range in length from half a day to a full week. Please contact Christian direct if you would like to initiate one of these.



January 2023

February 21-23, 2020

Make of Yourself a Light:
Finding Courage in Difficult Times

a Point Reyes retreat with Christian McEwen & Sarah Rabkin The Mesa Refuge, Point Reyes Station

To obtain more info & to register: srabkin57@gmail.com or 831-475-7548. Local lodging suggestions are available for participants traveling from beyond commuting range.

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.

—Bertolt Brecht, “Motto”

To inhabit this moment on Earth is to face profound danger and staggering loss. Rather than turning away in fear, numbness, or despair, how can we learn to dance with the difficult music of these times? Any activity can be a gift; the key is honoring what you already love.

Christian and Sarah will share stories, writings, and creative invitations to help kindle the unique light in each of us. Together, we will make space for grief, affirm the need to claim time and perspective, and explore the value of friendship, the importance of art, and the sustaining life of the larger-than-human world.

Once again, the Mesa Refuge’s beautiful rooms and verdant grounds will shelter and enliven our time together. This retreat may be of particular value to those who have a regular practice in writing or other creative & contemplative arts—but everyone is welcome.

We will have an introductory session, including a light meal, from 6:00 to 8:30 on Friday evening, reconvening from 10:00 to 4:00 on Saturday and from 10:00 to 3:00 on Sunday.


Christian McEwen is a British writer and workshop leader, currently based in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. She has edited four anthologies, including Jo’s Girls: Tomboy Tales of High Adventure, and has written for the Nation and The Village Voice. Her book World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down is fundamental to the theme of our retreat. She is currently working on a book on listening.



Sarah Rabkin is the author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World. A former UC Santa Cruz faculty member, she now freelances as an editor and workshop leader, and lives near Monterey Bay with her husband, poet Charles Atkinson. Sarah is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Quiet Activist: How Artists, Dreamers, and Hermits Help Heal the World.





Comments from participants in our previous Mesa Refuge retreats

I loved the place, the space, the group interactions, the time spent writing in balance with time spent sharing. Most of all I loved the spirit, wisdom and generosity of Christian and Sarah.

Thank you so much for the care you took to lead us on this journey to discover both what might occupy the darkness and how in myriad ways we could retrieve the light—personal, communal; quietly or vigorously.

The two of you work together beautifully, and I appreciate your warmth, the sense of welcome & reciprocity, and all the resources you so thoughtfully shared.

I loved the weekend—it was so full of gifts.


Listening to the Dark



Listening Out & In

listening flyer

Intimate Listening with Christian McEwen


As our society develops ever more various forms of techno-talk, the pace and volume of our exchanges can rise to fever-pitch. But it is all too clear that much is being missed. Despite the rush of information and opinion, there is an increasing lack of generous, centered listening. Too many of us feel invisible and unheard, leading to anger, disconnection and frustration. In this retreat with writer and educator Christian McEwen, we’ll explore the art of listening and how it pertains to our relationships — all our relationships.

Christian’s 2011 book, World Enough and Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down, showed us how to listen to our own inner muse. She brings that same process to the external world as we engage with “the other,” whether a co-worker or a co-parent, the person on the other side of the checkout counter, or across the political aisle. We’ll spend the day writing, sharing, walking, and most certainly listening.

And as with all our retreats, the experience will be held in the Monastery’s practice environment, beginning and ending the day with meditation, and familiarizing ourselves with the experience of living in community, where silence, communication, and gratitude are not mutually exclusive.
Here’s the link:

Zen Mountain Monastery
871 Plank Rd. • PO Box 197
Mount Tremper, NY 12457
(845) 688-2228 • mro@mro.org