reflection on pond
  • Retreat
  • Arts and Culture
  • Southwest Michigan
  • Spiritual Formation

When we think of "resilient" people, we generally think of individuals who adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, stress and/or tragedy. Resilience is less a trait that someone possesses; it is more a capacity that each of us can build within ourselves through our thoughts, behaviors, habits, and actions.

In this "Resilience Retreat," we will mine a rich philosophical tradition (Stoicism) for life lessons that can help us face inter-personal challenges and social contexts that may restrict our opportunities for growth. Through the examination of the works of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, journaling exercises, outdoor activities, and other philosophical practice, participants will explore the nature of freedom, temperance, patience, and courage in the face of life's challenges.

GilChrist Retreat Center, located on 67 acres of rolling hills, meadows, and forest, is intentionally designed to foster mediation, contemplative practice, and engagement with nature. No background in philosophy is required. Join us!

About the facilitator

Kathy Purnell, JD, PhD, is a lawyer and a political philosopher by training and has over two decades of combined professional experience as a teacher, attorney, and nonprofit administrator. She has a passion for integrating philosophy into training programs, book clubs, retreats, and public performances to build individual and social resilience, explore our obligations to one another in an inclusive democracy, deepen our appreciation of cultural diversity, and develop transformative strategies to promote equal opportunity. She received her PhD in Political Theory from Cornell University (1999) and has taught political philosophy at many institutions including Cornell University, the University of Vermont, DePaul University, and Western Michigan University. She is a certified professional coach, has trained in philosophical counseling techniques, and is an affiliate of the American Practical Philosophers Association. In 2018, she was designated a "Touring Artist" of the Michigan Humanities Council. Her current writing and performance projects include a memoir titled Creating Room for Improbable Philosophy: The Opportunity Chronicle of a Racial Hybrid, and Divorce (Professional), a play which integrates insights from a variety of thinkers such as Plato, Kant, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Deleuze, Martin Luther King, Jr., and bell hooks to explore issues of racial marginalization and sexual harassment in professional settings.

Retreat Schedule

Friday, June 5
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Cabin check-in
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Introduction to Resilience and Stoicism

Saturday, June 6
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Morning Ritual and Stoic Disciplines
2:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.: Stoic Virtues
6:30 p.m.: Group dinner

Sunday, June 7
8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Morning Ritual and Developing our Resilience Toolkit
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Experiencing Joy
2:00 p.m. – Cabin check-out

Registration and Lodging Details

First, e-mail Kathy at or call her at (269) 251-4858 to register for the retreat. Early bird registration for the retreat program is $50.00; on January 1, the cost increases to $100.00. Space is limited. Please inquire about options for financial accessibility.

Once you have registered and paid for the program with the facilitator, contact GilChrist to reserve your cabin using the online registration form or by calling the main office at (269) 244-1130. Lodging is $50/night per person in addition to the program fee. Participants will check into their cabins between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5 at a time you communicate via your cabin reservation. Cabin check­out is at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 7.

A communal dinner will take place on Saturday evening, so please let Kathy know if you have any food restrictions. Other than Saturday evening and continental breakfasts/snacks daily, individuals are responsible for their own meals. Each guest space at GilChrist is equipped with a complete kitchen. See the complete GilChrist FAQ for more information about the facility.


GilChrist Retreat Center

Three Rivers , MI 56265 Day Road