Subscribe to
our newsletter,
Desert Tracks
powered by EZezine

Desert Foundation Blog
Desert Foundation Home
About The Desert Foundation
What's New at The Desert Foundation
Please Donate to The Desert Foundation
Circle of Friends
Caravans Magazine
Responses from our readers
Desert Foundation Activities Desert Foundation History


Welcome To The Desert Foundation

May 2013
Here are three events we are eager to share with you:

Local friends recently walked Spain’s storied Camino de Santiago and this pilgrim experience inspired them to launch the world’s first “interspiritual pilgrimage” here in Crestone. Tessa and Fr. Dave will welcome pilgrims upon their arrival and offer reflections on the meaning of pilgrimage and the importance of interreligious and interspiritual exploration and respect. Find out more here [].

This summer we plan to redesign our web site in order to improve its look and make it an opportunity for online conversation with you. Because of this transition, we are updating our present site less than usual. But we are excited by the possibilities that a more dynamic format offers, so we ask your patience until we launch the new site. We plan to set aside time once a week to post reflections and respond to yours.

Tessa and Fr. Dave will facilitate the annual Spiritual Directors of Colorado retreat this September 16-18 at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Sedalia, Colorado: “Sand and Sky: Landscape, Seasons, and Spirit.”

What is the relationship between landscape and soulscape? Prayer and poetry? What weather can we expect through the mystical seasons of our ever-growing souls? How do we find the sacred in the ordinary? In our troubled world today, what wisdom can we glean from the Abrahamic peoples who grew out of the desert, Jews, Christians, and Muslims? How do we move from misunderstanding, conflict, and fear of contamination to vibrant cross-fertilization and a spacious interspirituality? We will explore these themes by weaving together lectures and personal sharing, silence and solitude, reflection and writing.

To register, contact Sandy Grundy at 303-420-1345 or

This retreat is open to everyone. You don’t have to be a spiritual director. We hope to see you there.

December 2012
Please visit our colorful Christmas greeting. May Christ the Radiant Dawn bring light and warmth to you throughout the cold dark winter and into the New Year.

Advent is a time for hope in the midst of darkness. Visit our Advent greeting for a brief and insightful reflection on this wondrous season.

November 2012
Tessa Bielecki "interviews" the late Ned Danson, archaeologist of the American Southwest, in our latest Caravans newsletter. You will also find Tessa's review of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, by Mirabai Starr. For an expanded version of the Danson interview as well as "web-only" color photos, visit our latest Circle of Friends post.

September 2012
Discover the art of Anne Barber-Shams, whose work is inspired by medieval Spain's rich Abrahamic culture. Her icon-like images seek not only to honor the past and explore aesthetic territory, but also to aid healing between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Her work is on display at The Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, D.C. and will run until October 26.

July 2012
For some fascinating reflections on Muslim women's experiences in Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey, see Fr. Dave's review of Woman, Man, and God in Modern Islam, by Theodore Friend.

May 2012
Read Tessa Bielecki's account of a wildfire that threatened to damage our Desert Foundation hermitages just before Easter. Truly a fiery finish to our lenten season! And thank you to our friends who responded with such loving concern.

April 2012
Tessa Bielecki reviews the art of Denver's Daniel Luna, whose vibrant work is on display at the Museo de Las Americas through May 28. Strong women, "saguaro cactus, red chili peppers, calla lilies, stone canyons and cow skulls" provide the imagery for what Luna calls his attempt to encourage "the beautiful magic of dreaming while awake."

March 2012
Fr. Dave Denny continues his reflections on Afghanistan with this review of a movie and two books that appeared shortly after 9/11. Lent is a good time of year to pray for peace and healing. We hope these reflections will help focus your prayer.

As the war in Afghanistan winds down, Fr. Dave Denny reports on his recent encounter with Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, the first novel written by an Afghan in English.


Past Events

December 2011
Find our Christmas greeting (our first web site slide show) here, with design and calligraphy by our artist-friend, Deborah Dyer.

Returning to our practice in the first years of the Desert Foundation, we are posting our Caravans newsletters on our web site. You may find our 2011 Caravans here. Thank you for your interest in our simple life of prayer, study, land stewardship, and dialogue.

April 2011
Easter greetings from the Desert Foundation! Don't forget to sign up for Tessa's workshop on desert spirituality June 10-12 in Boulder, Colorado. And we are happy to announce that Fr. Dave will be chaplain for Image magazine's Glen Workshop East at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts June 12-19. Please join us in one of these events.

March 2011
Visit our new History page to see what we have accomplished in our first five years.

With uprisings in North Africa and turbulence in other Middle Eastern countries,
Fr. Dave Denny reflects on the hope of an alliance
, not a clash, between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

January 2011
If you want to learn more about Israel, Palestine, and the extraordinary efforts of Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, sign up for the 2011 Sabeel Seeking Understanding In Israel/Palestine fact-finding trip, June 4-18. Fr. Dave Denny and Tessa Bielecki made this trip in 2007 and found it life-changing and inspiring.

Join Tessa Bielecki in Boulder, Colorado June 10-12 for "Inner Stillness: The Wisdom of the Desert."

December 2010
Enjoy our Christmas greeting, which includes reflections from Tessa Bielecki on Mother of God Similar to Fire, a beautiful new book of icons by William Hart McNichols with text by Mirabai Starr.

August 2010
Have you kept up with the controversy about a proposed Muslim center in lower Manhattan, near Ground Zero? Whether or not you have followed this story, you may find Fr. Dave Denny's contribution to the conversation informative and thought-provoking. It's a contemporary reflection on the age-old question, "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29).

July 2010
Tessa and Fr. Dave are attending a Teachers' Institute at Dar al-Islam in Abiquiu, New Mexico, July 11-24. They are blogging about it here Share their experience as they learn about the history, teachings and cultures of Islam.

April 2010
Easter Greetings from the Desert Foundation!

February 2010
Meet musician Karsten Klemme and allow his "Shifting Light" video to draw you into the mystery of the desert during this season of Lent.

If you would like to learn firsthand more about Israel, Palestine, and the quest for a just peace there, consider joining Sabeel Colorado's annual two-week fact-finding trip, May 15-29.

If you live in the Denver-Boulder neighborhood, mark your calendar for April 16-17, when Tessa Bielecki gives a workshop on "Sand and Sea: from the Desert to the Celts," sponsored by Contemplative Outreach of Boulder.

January 2010
Savor photographs of our Sand and Sky retreat, which took place in September at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

December 2009
Merry Christmas from The Desert Foundation!

Meet author, teacher, and translator Mirabai Starr, who has introduced a new generation to the writings of Spanish mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

November 2009
Take a break with Tessa Bielecki and New Dimensions Radio to explore "A Wild and Laughing God," Tessa's conversation with New Dimensions host Justine Willis Toms.

Tessa also reviews Jerusalem Sky: Stars, Crosses, and Crescents, by Mark Podwal: an excellent holiday gift book for children.

Fr. Dave Denny reviews Holy Land: Common Ground, a film by Edward Gaffney and Alicia Dwyer documenting heartbreaking yet hopeful encounters between grieving Israelis and Palestinians.

July 2009
In The Tent of Meeting, Fr. Dave Denny reflects on President Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo with the hope that it may bring Jews, Christians, and Muslims closer to a "communion that allows each community to fulfill its identity and destiny ... in a symbiosis that allows each to flourish not in spite of but because of our cross-fertilizing humility and wisdom."

June 2009
Fr. Dave Denny reviews Amir Hussain's Oil and Water: Two Faiths, One God, a Muslim reflection on Muslim-Christian relations especially in North America. Fr. Dave's review includes practical suggestions from Hussain on how to develop respectful friendships with Muslim neighbors.

May 2009
Find out about “Sand and Sky,” our first Desert Foundation pilgrimage-retreat. It takes place August 31-September 5 at Ghost Ranch’s Casa del Sol in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Register today! Space is limited.

Fr. Dave Denny reviews Belden Lane’s The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, an excellent book to read before the pilgrimage-retreat, or pack it and read it during your “desert oasis” time in New Mexico!

March 2009
As you see on the left-hand side of your screen, we have three new features on our site.

  • The “Reviews” button takes you to book and movie reviews. Fr. Dave Denny initiates the feature with a review of Egyptian-born writer Leila Ahmed’s memoir, Border Passages.
  • In order to stay abreast of new additions to our site, you may now subscribe to our new "Desert Tracks" brief periodic updates in one of two ways:
    • Email Newsletter: Simply fill out the subscription form on the top left of the site. Note: you will receive an email with instructions that you must follow in order to complete your subscription. Your privacy is assured in that we will never sell or share your address with anyone.
    • RSS Feed: Simply click the RSS button on the top left of the site and add our feed to your preferred feed-reader/news aggregator.
  • Fr. Dave’s new Tent of Meeting article celebrates milestones in Abrahamic dialogues in 2008.
  • And finally, you may now donate to the Desert Foundation simply by clicking the “Donate” button on the bottom left, which will direct you to PayPal’s secure site. The Desert Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Please help support our circle of friends as we explore the wisdom of the world’s deserts and build bridges between the three Abrahamic traditions.

Coming soon: Plan to attend our first Desert Foundation Retreat at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, August 31-September 5, 2009! Subscribe to Desert Tracks and be among the first to learn details.

December 2008
Merry Christmas from The Desert Foundation!

September 2008
During Ramadan, our Tent of Meeting brings together a Christian deacon and a Muslim Sufi minister to address questions about Islam.

August 2008
Join Tessa Bielecki in September in Hamburg, Germany or Fort Collins, Colorado. Or find out about her pilgrimage to Ireland in May 2009.

March 2008
Easter greetings from the Desert Foundation! Enjoy artist Deborah Dyer's vision of an ancient Easter hymn.

If you wish to observe present conditions in Israel and Palestine firsthand, join friends of Sabeel–Colorado June 14-28, 2008 for Seeking Understanding in Israel/Palestine: A Two-Week Fact-Finding Trip.

The Desert Foundation’s Fr. Dave Denny and Tessa Bielecki participated in Sabeel’s 2007 trip. We experienced the heroism of Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers and developed a deep bond with our fellow voyagers. Read Tessa Bielecki’s account of the trip, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem …” and share her experience of the meaning of the trip and the human encounters that left her “profoundly changed.”
For more information on this year’s trip, please contact:
Joy Lapp at 303-494-2338, or email

Join Desert Foundation co-founder Tessa Bielecki June 6-8 at Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado for Walking the Tightrope: Navigating Life’s Tensions Creatively. Work and play, service and celebration, solitude and community—explore how to balance the polarities in our lives by looking at the lives of the Christian mystics. Visit Shambhala Mountain Center’s web site for more information.

February 2008
During the forty days of Lent Tessa Bielecki looks back on forty years of gardening and composting. It's a good time of year to ponder how compost "grows such sweet things," according to Walt Whitman, "out of such corruptions."

Fr. Dave Denny reviews Three Cups of Tea, the tale of an American mountaineer’s mission to promote peace through education in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

December 2007
View a special Egyptian Christmas greeting from the Desert Foundation.

During the winter months, many of us take time to look back at the previous year and forward to the next. Follow Tessa Bielecki through the four seasons as she ponders the meaning and beauty of “our outer landscape and inner soulscape.”

Fr. Dave Denny welcomes you to his hermitage and reflects on the Abrahamic art that surrounds him in the Tent of Meeting. Our latest Walls and Bridges feature introduces Amal Elsana Alh'jooj, an Israeli Bedouin feminist developing partnerships in Israel between Jews and Muslims.

November 2007
One year after Muslim scholars criticized remarks about Islam Pope Benedict XVI made in September 2006, an even larger group of Muslim scholars has written an open letter, “A Common Word between Us and You” to Christian leaders throughout the world. See Fr. Dave Denny’s reflections on the current letter, which acknowledges that love of God and neighbor are central pillars of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

October 2007
As Halloween approaches, some American Christians question the appropriateness of the holiday. In her reflections on The Jack-o-Lantern and Jesus, Tessa Bielecki encourages us to celebrate the power of the risen Christ who overcame the devil and the power of evil, the power of fear and death. The Jack-o-Lantern glows, she declares, with the light of Christ.

September 2007
Join Tessa Bielecki for the 2nd Annual Celebration of Celtic Spirituality in La Veta, Colorado September 29th, 2007. Tessa will offer reflections on common themes in the Desert Fathers and Mothers and Ireland’s early Celtic Christians. Learn more about this autumn weekend celebration at the base of southern Colorado’s Huajatolla Moutains.

Fr. Dave Denny was honored as “artist of the month” by “Image Update” and Image Journal’s web site. “Father Dave demonstrates in his life and writing that a call to the desert is also a call to the world,” writes Image’s managing editor Mary Kenagy, “that an earnest seeking after God in silence and emptiness is the natural corollary to a profound, intimate love of the created order, and that beautiful work of human hands is not an impediment to the soul's stillness but a pathway to it.”

September 15 is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. One of Fr. Dave’s early poems is based on a fourteenth century devotion to the Sorrowful Mother. To aid your reflections on the feast, you may wish to read his poem, “The Seven Sorrows of Mary,” with art by Santa Fe santera Arlene Cisneros Sena.


©2012, Desert Foundation, all rights reserved.