Compared to say, New Yorkers, Bay Area folks are pretty laid-back. But there's always room for more R&R, and taking off for a weekend retreat can work wonders on one's state of mind. Here's where San Damiano Retreat comes in: Nestled in the hills of the San Ramon Valley in Danville, San Damiano was founded on Franciscan principles but welcomes people of all different faiths and backgrounds. Built in classic California mission style, the main building houses a fireside lounge, library, conference rooms, a dining room, chapel, and 78 spare but welcoming remodeled rooms. Visitors can spend a weekend on private retreat — with the option of spiritual direction with one of the friars — or join one of the center's many offerings, which can include retreats on dreams, recovery, the spirituality of aging, or ecology. Let the gentle splashing of the central fountain soothe you, or take a tour of the Canticle garden's labyrinth, lovingly nurtured by volunteers. Who knows? Maybe out of the quiet will come that lightning bolt of spiritual insight that's been eluding you all these years.
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