By Tyler J. Eshleman, TiLT Program Coordinator

When Ken Gingerich expressed his dream for a midwinter retreat in Taos, NM, we at the Taos Initiative for Life Together (TiLT) jumped at the idea. The vision for bringing persons from New Mexico and Colorado to the Upper Rio Grande watershed for a time of noticing, listening, discerning, and reflecting began to emerge.

Individuals and families from as far away as Boulder, CO and Albuquerque, NM gathered at the TiLT House in Taos for a three-day retreat from the noise of the everyday.  Lodging together, cooking alongside one another, sharing meals, and tending fires in the historic hacienda, we learned about practicing and living into a caring community. A medicine walk through the Rio Grande Gorge with M.J. Zimmerman, silent meditations in the snow, readings, and conversations guided by TiLT Director Todd Wynward led us into a space to consider how we care for our watershed, even as our watershed cares for us.

Through these experiences participants – ranging from the secular to the spiritual – engaged with our guiding question: “in the stillness of mid-winter, how is creation calling you?” We explored how God’s creation calls us to deeper creativity, to stronger identity and purpose, to more courageous action. As God’s people living into watershed discipleship, we reflected on the significant changes that occurred in our society this year—from the surprising election results to the surprising events of Standing Rock. During a culminating ceremony, one participant wrote thoughtfully,

“We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, and we are the last that can do something about it. But we cannot forget that we are the culmination of seven (and more) generations — let’s be open to the wisdom of our ancestors and give us the courage to use it. Like the grass on the Great Plains, where majority of the biomass is out of sight. Perhaps the majority of our wisdom is out of sight, beneath the surface — we just need to be open; quiet and aware of it.”

We each responded to this courageous weekend differently, and yet, we each had a sense that this was something that we must do together — that we were being drawn to as a collective to act in unity. We were inspired. In the moments of quiet, in the times of intimate sharing, and amidst the hearty laughter, we were moved to act together. We emerged fierce companions in a world in winter.

The Taos Initiative for Life Together (TiLT) is a site of New Community Project. To learn more, find us at or You can contact us at 540.810.4487 or on the contact page on our website.

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