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Every person, and every society, lives with or by some conception(s) of what human flourishing is: what constitutes a fulfilled life? What makes life really worth living? What would we most admire people for? We can’t help asking these and related questions in our lives. 

— Charles Taylor, “A Secular Age”

Ever thought about what it takes to build a home? Not one of those cookie cutter houses that pop up like weeds in generic subdivisions, but a real home.  A home that has character and style; a home that takes work but is sustainable, that gets better as it ages, that isn’t full of disposable things or fueled by energy-gobbling appliances. A home that lasts a lifetime, even longer.


More significantly, have you ever pondered what it takes to build a life that has this same sturdiness, character and feel? A life that flourishes, has meaning, resilience and is sustainable through the hardest of times? 


I want to offer an idea you may not have considered: that these past few years of pandemic, political upheaval, economic uncertainty, social revelation, environmental reckoning, even chaos have been a gift. Or maybe, they can be a gift if we will receive them as such and do something with them. A gift to shake us awake as to who we are, where we are, where we’re headed. A gift that calls us to ask the tough questions and make serious choices about the future, our future, the future of those around us. A gift that calls us to discover the tools and habits of head, heart and hand to shape a future that is sustainable and allows for flourishing. Not just our own, but for others as well. 


And I want to offer you an opportunity to be part of a small cohort of people who are willing to risk asking these questions. To work and live sacrificially to find answers. To practice habit-forming disciplines that lead to understanding and strength. To dare hopefully that the answers to be found can be realistically incorporated into one’s life — a life of sustainable flourishing. To be clear, I can’t offer any guarantees, only the opportunity. 


For six weeks, this small cohort of people from various backgrounds and places will live and work together in the foothills of the Ozarks. The whole experience will be guided and facilitated by a group of professionals and seasoned practitioners of various skills and trades, backgrounds and giftings.


Days will be filled with learning from mentors who practice living in sustainable and generous ways — farmers and developers, ministers and gardeners, therapists and business people — as well as projects through which participants will learn sustainable building skills, restorative agriculture and husbandry, responsible gardening and outdoor skills. There will also be time to explore the rivers,woods, rocks and trails of the Ozarks. Sundays will be set apart for participating in worshiping communities and asking deep questions of faith, along with dedicated time to rest. Personal reflection and physical exercise will be daily priorities. Each participant will have one-on-one time with professionals in the areas of mental and spiritual health for discovering personal avenues and opportunities for growth in these areas. 


This is a rare opportunity that may never be repeated. Applications are now being considered for a select few (see requirements below). If you, or someone you know, might be interested, please feel free to reach out. 

Grace and peace, 

John and Jane Ray

The Abide Collective

Dates: June 16- July 31, 2022 



The Abide Summer Experience in OZ (Ozarks) kicks off with a multi-day canoe and camping trip, jumping right into our team-building and skill-learning. The next six weeks will follow a daily rhythm of beginning each morning with quiet reflection, journaling and exercise.


Mondays will be set aside for learning from mentors and practitioners of various trades and backgrounds related to sustainable working, thinking or believing.

Tuesdays through Fridays will be spent working on various projects dedicated to sustainable building, agriculture, husbandry and ministry. This will include demanding physical effort and an essential willingness to listen, learn and be challenged.

Saturdays are for exploring the OZ outdoors and the small cities and towns in our area: the museums, coffee shops, funky stores and cafes.

Sundays, we will visit a religious service and spend most of the day practicing real sabbath, or rest. Most evenings we will share a meal together, have time for discussion and debrief about the day's activities, often around a campfire. 



$2400 covers all food, lodging, materials, activities and transportation in and around OZ. It does not cover transportation to and from Fayetteville, Arkansas, or personal expenses including meals eaten apart from the group. Limited scholarships may be available on a case by case basis. 


  • Open to applicants ages 17-22 who possess a strong desire to understand what it means to live and sustain a life that flourishes.

  • Applicants must be willing to live in close community with others and share in the essential tasks necessary for living in community.

  • Applicants must be willing to accept  strenuous physical, intellectual and mental challenges; to ask and be asked deep questions and listen respectfully and attentively to others, even those with whom they may disagree.

  • Applicants must be willing to practice challenging disciplines that lead to the opportunity for greater experiential understanding.


While we retain the right to accept only those applicants we feel will most benefit from the experience, we will not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, national origin, native language, religion, age, disability, citizenship or genetic information. Our goal is to build a team of participants who represent diverse backgrounds, experiences, situations and outlooks.

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