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New England Regional

The Abode of the Message

January-February 2012

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message

Photograph courtesy of the Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message is a Sufi retreat center located just over the Massachusetts border, in New Lebanon, New York. Built in 1785 as the Mount Lebanon South Family Shaker Village, The Abode is now a community of the Sufi Order International. Many original structures and furnishings are still in use and the campus sits on 400 acres that include an organic farm, a pond, and hilly trails into the Berkshires.

“There are many ways to be here depending on what you are looking for,” notes programs manager Amalae McCloud. There are individual silent retreats, done alone or with experienced Sufi guides (many of whom live at The Abode), that last anywhere from three to 40 days; retreats run by outside groups—Catholic, Jewish, Tibetan, for example; or guests may also create their own “rest and relaxation” retreats. Massages and other body treatments are available. No prior knowledge of Sufism is necessary, nor do guests need to be exclusively interested in that practice. “Love, peace, and harmony are the three most important things here,” says McCloud. Classes and workshops on Sufism and other religious and spiritual practices are offered daily; all, as well as the universal worship on Sundays, are open to everyone.

The main house has guest rooms, but there are also cabins and huts. Silent retreaters have simple, mostly vegetarian, meals delivered to them, while others eat together in the dining hall. The local natural beauty alone may be enough for some to book a stay at The Abode. Wooded hikes and mountain climbs offer majestic views. There is even a bridge suspended over a cliff, affording a sense of “standing in mid-air,” McCloud reports. “Some like it as a meditation spot. It’s like a bridge to nowhere. Others are too scared to go out there.”