Although only about an hour drive from almost anywhere in the Kansas City Metro area, it feels like a world away; a place where you don’t doanything - you just be. This, is Timber Creek Retreat House.
Driving along the undulating country roads of Missouri is an apt metaphor for life: Sometimes the road is sunny, dry and flat; other times steep and slippery peaks and valleys. But on the horizon, set on 80 spectacular wooded acres in Drexel, Timber Creek Retreat House instantly levels everything out the moment you pull up into the circular drive. It feels like a world away.
This 501(c)3 non-profit is the dream of founders/directors Tom and Beth Jacobs, spending almost two decades laying the groundwork for this contemplative home.
Their time-honored dream to build a place where people from all walks of life could get off the life’s merry-go-round, discover their deeper purpose, and embrace their own gifts, and be transformed, came to fruition in June 2012.
Today, guests will find an awe-inspiring, 10,800 square-foot place of rest and reflection that truly lives up to its mission: Renew, Refresh, Return to Life.
The name–-Timber Creek Retreat House—is essential to its core heartbeat.
“Timber Creek is a retreat house, not a retreat center,” Tom explains. “Retreat centers have multiple rooms and conduct conferences and multiple workshops. Timber Creek was designed and placed in nature to emphasize an environment that’s intimate, cozy, private, and quiet.”
Even that distinction often flies by those unaccustomed to the benefits of a retreat.
“Although we do offer a wide variety of meditation, both instructional and how to deepen, yoga with teachers who bring their own students, women’s midlife divorce recovery, and other retreats,” adds Beth, “the main idea is to gift yourself, whether for the day, overnight, a weekend, or an extended stay, by just coming on retreat.”
The daily “itinerary” is noticeably and wonderfully scant. Three meditation periods (8 a.m., 11:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m.) followed by a meal. The in-between is up to you.
Where Rustic Meets Zen
From the moment you cross the threshold, it’s evident that a lot of love and great emphasis was placed on bringing nature inside.
Graceful stone archways adorn the main level hearth and sun rooms, complete with oversized leather furniture, rocking chairs, round, natural wood coffee and end tables and a library of spiritually-based books.
The focal point here is a natural stone fireplace flanked by expansive Prairie windows stretching up to meet the 10-foot crossbeam, pitched roof ceiling above.
The seven comfortable guest rooms––Sycamore, Walnut, Oak, Hawthorne, Cedar, Redbud, and Evergreen, all native trees found on the property––each evoke a rustic log cabin feel.
The décor features handcrafted woodwork and hardwood floors with modern amenities, including California king-size beds with oodles of oversized pillows, beautiful side tables, writing desks, large leather chairs and reading table relaxation areas, ceiling fans and individual temperature controls.
Dual sink vanities, roomy closets, 8-foot high tiled glass–enclosed showers and earth tone towels and floor mats accentuate the spacious bathrooms.
In the kitchen, more subtle earthy hues, natural stone, and ceramic mosaics spill over to the warm and inviting dining room. Here, a wall of stone–framed Prairie windows overlook the spindly reed–peppered pond and birdfeeder that quite naturally morphed into supplementary sustenance for the sundry of squirrels and deer that wander upon it.
Amenities include almost two miles of hiking trails through lush woods and pasture, a spiritual cinema room for inspirational films, and complimentary yoga classes for weekend guests.
Budget-friendly extra comforts include soothing massages and spiritual mentoring sessions where guest can discuss, discover, and learn breakthrough practices and insights designed to assist and support the areas of one’s life where a shift or a lift is needed.
“We teach practices that assist the shift and/or offer a spark of support to areas where one wants to aspire,” explains Tom. “These are practices that help people get ‘un-stuck’ and move forward.”
Weather permitting, numerous multi-level, private al fresco patios with glider lounge chairs and wrought-iron tables provide intimate areas were guests can read, unwind, and gaze at the captivating landscape.
The ambiance, inside and out, beautifully ties into the Jacobs’ oft repeated acronym, KISS – Keep It Simple Sweetheart. It’s a gentle nod to the effortlessness of it all.
Extreme (Internal) Makeover
Beyond the instrumental music playing softly overhead in the dining area, the only other melody comes from the 3-1/2–story high Tom O’Sullivan Memorial Tower Bell signaling each of the three regular, daily meditation sessions.
It rings in memory of the Jacobs’ dear friend and former board member who bequeathed his funeral memorial gifts to Timber Creek.
The timbre of the bell reminds you of something you have heard before, the inability to un-ring it and instead live with that life consequence, and the clarity and understanding that can come from it.
No matter one’s religious beliefs/faith, the solace of the Meditation Room overlooking the pond and woods beyond, invites you to reconnect with God/The Presence/The Voice of Spirit … whatever you call it, inside.
“Beth and I have observed the high stress and deadlines in people’s lives, and have created a place and a space for people to experience a quality rest-stop, from the hectic pace,” says Tom. “The retreat environment is meant to better equip them to return to their lives, conscious of their purpose and to help enhance the world.”
Each meditation session—guests sitting eyes closed on comfortable, wide-cushion chairs, or cross-legged on meditation pillows on the floor, is led by Tom and/or Beth; 15 contemplative minutes of silence, a reading, perhaps a song (Tom is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and recording artist). The couple says it all opens the channels for deep inner listening.
An Attitude of Gratitude
The Jacobs’ attitude of gratitude delves deeper than a simple “be-happy-with-what-you’ve-got” mantra. Their gratitude is for the love, wisdom, grace, abundance, and consciousness that comes to, and flows from them, with every guest experience.
It goes back to the early framing of the structure in 2011, when they stood in what would become the dining room, only vertical posts around them, and nothing but blue sky above. It was there that they laid a plywood–topped sawhorse “Thanksgiving Table,” on which to share a special lunch with the talented artisans and craftsman working side-by-side to bring their dream to fruition.
In today’s dining room, wholesome, gourmet family-style meals, part of the retreat package, that nourish the body and soul are prepared by Executive Chef Patti Lowry, Tom’s younger sister. She and husband Jeff left successful careers in Breckenridge to join Tom and Beth in 2011.
“Patty infuses a lot of love into every meal she creates, and loves how that generates joy,” Tom says. Patty gently shifts the praise to how she lives her life. “We have to hold the vibration for everyone who comes here who needs it,” she says with a warm smile.
Guests are served on two stunning, nine-foot long trestle-style tables handcrafted and created by a family friend from oak trees severely damaged in northeast Missouri’s 2001 ice storm. “We wanted the tree to be able to tell the story,” Tom recalls. “So they were harvested and sat for several years in our next door neighbor’s barn, until their life could live on as our dining room table.”
Jeff’s talents as a former luxury homebuilder are evident everywhere you look. “Jeff loves the wisdom of nature, and invests his creativity into the care of the building and the land,” Beth explains. “The amazing bridge in the woods crossing our creek is but one example of his artistry.”
Renew, Refresh, Return to Life
If the comments in the guestbook are any indication, folks from across the country, and as far away as The Netherlands and England, are being transformed.
~ Thank you so much for dreaming this dream and making it continue. I am so full of gratitude.
~ I’ve been blessed to have experienced the renewal of purpose within me.
~ We felt so at ease, so nurtured and soothed after visiting your retreat house. It delivered the great respite that we needed!
~ You both are the most gracious, loving and talented of all hosts. … It was a truly divine and God-inspired weekend.
~ My favorite moments were every moment, and the space in between.
One guest even shared her journal entry with the Jacobs’ during a visit in 2013:
There is so much love in this home, and it really does feel like one. From the immense thought put into how to gracefully meld the structure into the natural Missouri landscape, to the grand arching windows in the meditation room overlooking the pond and walking trail, to the family-style dinner tables that aptly invite conversation and sharing amongst new and old friends.
It’s obvious that every detail underwent deep, prayerful consideration of how to meld mind, body and spirit into an ambience that permits, and naturally entices, one to get away from it all, and at the same time reconnects you with your true essence. The spirit within. Our divine birthright. Whatever you call your one power and presence. There’s no need to name it or claim it if you haven’t already done so in your own personal and/or spiritual life before you come here, because it will find you.
“Beth and I have observed the high pace, and the stress and deadlines in people’s lives. And we have created a place and a space for people to experience a quality, rest-stop, from the hectic pace,” says Tom. “The retreat environment is meant to better equip them to return to their lives, conscious of their purpose and to help enhance the world.”
To that Beth adds, “There’s nothing wrong with go-go-go, but if you don’t stop-stop-stop, you burn-burn-burn. We also are very into practical spirituality in the sense of teaching people practices they can rely on in the nitty gritty of life’s challenges. To “Retreat” actually means to take a step back, pause, listen deeply, and realign with a greater consciousness.”
That is, after all, what a retreat house is supposed to do: welcome you “home to you.”