The Kneipp Springs Experience
Joanne K. Hill
As a young, naive, exhausted mother of three
little ones, I was desperate for help. Ken and I married in 1952, two
weeks after my high school graduation. Deborah, our first child, was
born in 1953. We began and ended 1955 with a newborn: Cynthia in
January, Kenneth Jr. in December. (Try and explain that to teachers who
must have information cards filled out each year.) My body was stretched
to the max. So were my emotions. I was running out of dishes to smash
against the wall.
Ken’s boss, Bob, and his wife had
nine children, so Ken sought his counsel. Bob told Ken that he
occasionally tended the entire family so his wife could go to a health
spa. A Catholic religious order owned Kneipp Springs and was located in
central Indiana. In addition to tending to the needs of the health spa’s
clients, the sisters had a secondary mission: to provide a quiet,
healing place for overworked mothers. For a donation (or nothing if
funds were limited), tired mothers could go there for a rest.
Although it was a three-hour
drive and took lots of preparation before leaving home, I decided to
give myself a weekend at Kneipp Springs where I found heavenly
I ate nutritious meals prepared
(and cleaned up) by someone else, slept through entire nights
undisturbed, walked along restive tree-lined lanes by bubbling springs
and wrote at length (and with honesty) in my journal.
Sometimes, in the evening, one
special sister and I talked. Two adults. No interruptions. Sister Mary
Teresa was an excellent listener. The visits were healing and
spiritually expanding. I treasure those times in that holy place with
the kind, loving sisters.
Going to Kneipp Springs
rejuvenated me and convinced me that I needed short, daily quiet times.
How could I find such moments with a growing, busy family? Was there a
way to bring home some of the peace I felt at the health spa?
My first experience in slicing
out a bit of quiet time each day was rather bumpy. To find silence in a
house full of active people, I had to rise earlier than anyone else.
Sometimes, even the birds can’t beat the babies. I decided to get up
thirty minutes before our earliest riser. But when the alarm went off, I
couldn’t force myself out of bed.
The next day, determined to
succeed, I literally rolled my body out of bed, thumping on the floor. I
spent my quiet time tending my bruises and asking for help to do it
again the next day. Thankfully, a bit of blessed wisdom came through.
The next morning I rolled myself out of bed onto a pile of soft pillows.
It took a week to adjust. The
thirty minutes spent each morning in prayerful meditation, journaling or
Bible and inspirational reading, brought me self-confidence and a desire
for more. I looked for niches where I might plug in quiet time, either
in prayer and meditation, journaling or just for reading self-help
In the stillness, my mind was
free to ask questions. Often, within seconds of writing questions in my
journal, I found answers in books, audiotapes, newspapers or magazine
articles, songs on the radio, even through casual conversations with
friends. This “magic” continues today. Many times I feel led to a
perfect resource for the immediate need in my life.
I believe that once we start looking for something, we find
it in many places. For years I carried two small magazines in my purse
to read while waiting for my children to finish activities or doctors’
a small magazine filled with positive
stories of people dealing with life’s difficult times, and
Plus, The Magazine of Positive Thinking.®
Through these magazines, countless insights sparked my searching mind. I
am continually amazed at how many times the story I am reading is a
direct answer to a current concern.
Waiting for trains or lingering
in traffic provide bonus prayer times to give thanks or ask questions.
(Don’t expect immediate answers, although sometimes it happens. Be
patient. Sometimes delivery is slow.)
When the children grew older and
I worked full-time, I found lunch-time sanctuaries: a community
greenhouse, chapels, cemeteries and parks. A fifteen-minute walk,
particularly during seasonal changes, refreshed my body and renewed my
spirit. I always accomplished more after one of those brief
Now my children are grown. Living
alone, I have plenty of quiet time. My dilemma is how to put that
solitude into focused use. I often take for granted that once I learn a
valuable technique, there is no need for further change. Not so. Change
is the challenge that recharges my spirit.
Timeouts can vary from quiet
times for contemplation to crazy, off-beat changes of pace. A timeout
can be as brief as a two-minute breathing space, when I close my eyes,
draw my breath deep into my abdomen, hold a few seconds, and exhale
slowly and thoughtfully through my mouth. This brief interlude quiets
the mind and body as it wakes up the brain.