Desert House of Prayer comprises several buildings, each one opening directly onto the desert: four hermitages and ten rooms with separate entrances and private baths; a chapel, a library, and a central dining area. The accommodations are named after the saints of the mystical tradition (Francis, Teresa, Juan de la Cruz, etc.) and suggest the spirit of the same by simple works of art and décor. Each space is revered as a silent area except during times designated for conversation.
For both hermitages and rooms, bed and bath linens, as well as soap, are provided. To keep down costs and to allow for maximum privacy, no room service is provided once a guest checks into her or his space. Normal check-out time is 10 am, noon on Sundays.
We have four hermitages (casitas), each equipped with a queen size bed, table and chairs, recliner, closet, small kitchen sink, cooking facilities, and private bathroom with tub and shower.
Each hermitage is a climate controlled self-contained building with two picture windows and a twelve-foot side glass sliding door that opens directly out onto the desert. Normal check-out time is 10 am, noon on Sundays.
We have nine rooms equipped with a full or queen size bed, desk, recliner, chest of drawers, closet, and private bathroom with shower. A tenth room has the same amenities, but with two twin beds instead of a full or queen.
Each room is climate controlled and is on the ground floor with a private entrance from the outside. Each room has a window above the desk and a six-foot-wide glass sliding door providing ample sunlight and views, front and back, of the natural desert.
Typical breakfast items:
- Fresh fruit
- Milk, coffee, fruit juice
Typical lunch items:
- Green salad with fixings on the side
- Lunchmeat and cheese
- Chicken, seafood, or fruit salad
- Bread and fresh fruit
Typical dinner items:
- Tuesday: vegetarian
- Wednesday: fish
- Thursday: chicken
- Friday: homemade soup, fruit and bread
- Other days vary
Breakfast and lunch are eaten in silence. It is self-serve, and you can come any time during the meal hour.
The evening meal is the one time of day that we engage in conversation, and we begin promptly at 5:15. We sit family-style at round tables.
If we know of guests’ dietary needs and food allergies in advance (vegan, gluten-free, etc.), we can generally make some accommodations. Guests on highly specialized or restricted diets might want to bring some food of their own that does not need to be cooked.
A small refrigerator is available for retreatants’ use. Guests indicate on a meal sign-up sheet what meals they will have while on retreat. This helps the cooks know how much to prepare.
Types of Retreats
We offer three types of retreats:
Most people who retreat at Desert House direct their own retreats. Each person designs a schedule to fit individual needs and goals. Retreatants participate in worship opportunities and meals to whatever extent they find helpful. For those who wish to prepare their own meals or eat in solitude, each hermitage is equipped with a small microwave, cooking surface, and refrigerator. Retreatants staying in rooms have access to a small microwave oven and refrigerator in our laundry room.
Members of the staff are available to lead private, guided retreats if a person so desires. Each retreat is tailored to the needs and goals of the individual retreatant. For such retreats we usually offer direction at the beginning, middle, and end of the retreat, most often with no more than three sessions of direction per week.
Centering Prayer Intensive Retreats
Each month from September through June, three days are set aside for Centering Prayer Retreats. Our regular schedule is modified during these days to allow for four sessions of Centering Prayer each day and to offer instructional and reflective videos each afternoon. You can find a complete schedule on our Calendar and Events pages.
Some Testimonials and Feedback
A priest from Europe recently wrote,
“My two months at the Desert House were the highlight of my sabbatical year. The silence and solitude, combined with the intense prayer of a very supportive community, provided all the encouragement and incentive I needed to commit myself to the Spirit….”
And a non-Catholic wife and mother wrote,
“The faithfulness to silence was the most significant aspect of the atmosphere for me…. also the mealtime music…and was impressed with the degree of organization and how much that contributed to maintaining silence.”
“The place is a treasure. So simple and lovely. It nourished me in so many ways.”
“The peace and space renews my heart and spirit, leading to finding my true self.”
“I love the simplicity and orderliness of DHoP. Walking the grounds, I notice that everything has a place… and the reliable daily routine produces a soothing sense of order that allows for freedom and openness.”
“More than any other time I have been here over the years, I felt that deep silence was carefully observed. My deepest gratitude for that and all the ways you care for your guests.”
“Everything around Desert House is a setting to find God’s love and kindness.”