During your Sounds Of Silence retreat, you’ll join an intimate group of 6 to 12 as you individually walk a 50 KM trail in complete silence during each day. Upon your return to our 100 acre farm each evening, you’ll relax and reflect with others, and be restored by animals, food, fire, and rest. Why silence? Because there’s an intrinsic correlation between being S.I.L.E.N.T in order to L.I.S.T.E.N to what needs to be heard, and the exploration of meaning – fulfillment – purpose – and peace. Our goal at SOS Retreats Canada is for each of our guests to leave having achieved painful clarity on ONE aspect of their life. That’s it. ONE
SOS Retreats are not prescriptive. In other words, we’re not offering you another recipe or a new formula to help your marriage, help you be “successful”, help you cope with loneliness or grieve a loss, or help you become less of an ass. There are more than enough sacred scriptures and wisdom writings in the world for you to meditate on. And we’re pretty sure you can download plenty of lectures by Tony Robbins, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, Brené Brown, and TED to listen to during your endless commutes back and forth to work. The reality is that in this age of information overload, you most likely already know what you need to know in order to achieve or fix or create or heal. And if you’re now considering walking 50 KM in silence, then you’re well on the path towards “getting your Gandhi on” and being the change you want to see in the world.
At SOS Retreats Canada, it doesn’t matter what you believe – it doesn’t matter what we believe. We’re here to help you chase the “WHY?” Slowly. And we strongly feel that all you need is the right opportunity and just the right space to help you clear the mechanism and block out the noise. Then, the stuff that really matters eventually becomes the loudest during your silence. We’re simply here to help with the acoustics.
Drew walked 1000 KM from France, across Spain to the Atlantic on the ancient pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago, during a three month vow of silence. Why? Because his personal life was falling apart and as a talk-show host, he felt it was time to shut-up in order to hear what needed to be said.
Drew was adopted, grew up in a funeral home, survived a teenage suicide attempt, dropped out of school after graduating Grade 9, ran away to California to be a wrangler, played semi-pro football with NFL/CFL tryouts, drove around North America volunteering for charities, tried to be a firefighter and a rodeo cowboy, was a stay at home dad, a Pastor in Australia, studied stand-up comedy & improv at Second City Toronto, worked a little in film and TV, and was the host of Canada’s most listened to spiritual talk show for 16 years. He’s interviewed hundreds of celebrities, cultural icons, religious leaders & gurus about their beliefs or lack thereof. Drew is a “Red Letter – Agnostic – Theist” who struggles with his own spiritual understandings. As a skeptical believer in search of authentic belief, he sacrificed his eyesight and went blind for the last week of Lent, paid a pagan and an atheist to go to church and report on their findings, drank with witches, celebrated with Wiccans, partied with Pagans, and visited with Satanists.
Drew began writing about his life experiences (think “Eat, Pray, Love” but with balls) in a monastery on an island off the coast of Africa. He continues to wrestle with his own apathy and narcissism by being responsible for the care of 30 animals on a wee Canadian farm in Caledon, Ontario.
Drew’s spiritually inquisitive nature along with his - straight to the point, no BS, total honesty, but let’s laugh at ourselves in the process - conversations, captured my heart the second I met him. Ok, 45-minutes after I met him. With seventeen years of friendship under our belts, he never ceases to surprise me by his personal journey to seek spiritual truths, his most humble self, and a desire to lead others towards their own best.
Drew is a gifted communicator with a keen curiosity and an irreverent sense of humor. Hmm...wonder why I like him so much...
When Drew was a young guy, I thought he was the craziest man I'd ever met. If he didn't end up in jail, Drew would really make an impact with his life. Well, he's not in jail and I think that Drew could become one of Canada's premier motivational leaders. I really believe that he's got what it takes.
FRIDAY – You’ll arrive at the farm in Caledon, Ontario after dinner-time on Friday at 6:30 PM for your SOS Retreat. Your host will welcome you and give your small group a brief tour of the property, introducing you to the horses, donkey, chickens and dogs. You’ll then make your way to the raging Cataract waterfalls, where you’ll begin the 1st section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE. (5 KM / 90 minutes) Arriving back at the farm, the campfire will be waiting for you to roast marshmallows soaked in Baileys Irish Cream. We’ll have lots to talk about after your first SOS experience, as you get to know new friends before settling in for a great night’s sleep.
SATURDAY – In the morning, a café breakfast will be provided. Freshly brewed caffeinated beverages and juice, as well as home baked sweet or savoury breakfasts, will be prepared according to your personal choices. Then, we’ll provide you with nourishing snacks and water for your 2nd section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE. (16 KM / 4 hours) . One by one, you’ll stop at a beautiful little park by a tiny country church where your personalized café lunch will be provided. After an hour break as a group IN SILENCE, you’ll begin the 3rd section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE (11 KM / 3 hours). When everyone has reached the trail destination for the day, transportation will pick-up your group and take you back to the farm, where the silence ends and you’ll have time to change, freshen up, and relax before a dinner of top cut BBQ’d steak or wild salmon and fresh veggies. (An abundance of veggies will be available for the non-meat eaters.) After everyone is full and content, we’ll gather around the campfire (or under cover if it’s raining) to share our experiences from the day. Saturday night will most likely be one of the most peaceful and restorative sleeps you’ve ever had.
SUNDAY – The morning begins much the same way as Saturday – personalized café breakfast, caffeinated beverages (and juice), provision of nourishing snacks & water for the trail, then transportation back to where you left the trail the day before. The 4th section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE will be an easier start to the day (11 KM / 3 hours). You’ll all meet again for another personalized café lunch and restful break. Then, you’ll commence the FINAL section of the Elora / Cataract Trail IN SILENCE (8 KM / 2 hours). Your SOS Retreat will end inside the historic Knox Presbyterian Church in Elora, where one by one our group will arrive to sit in sacred silence, as each of you individually reflect on what you’ve just accomplished and what it was that became the loudest during your Sounds Of Silence Retreat.Transportation will pick up your group and take you back to the farm, where after the farewells (around 5:00 / 5:30 PM), you’ll head back home to begin – again.
Walking 50 KM in silence during a weekend at SOS Retreats might be the perfect way for you to listen to what needs to be said, done, felt, or believed. But walking that far might also sound daunting. And being silent for that long might sound impossible! If that’s how you feel - good! That means that this weekend found YOU. I’m not an expert in anything and I’m not here to provide you with “answers'' or explain “The Way”. But I will help you with things like - how to briefly interact with people you meet on the trail when you’re practicing the sacred tradition of silence. (Because Canadians don’t just walk by each other!) As a professional “asker/interviewer” I’ll also help you explore why you signed up for this weekend. And hopefully I can help you with some expectation management, to the point where you'll be able to practice compassionate, non-judgmental, self awareness as you walk your own mini Camino.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
– Max Ehrmann –