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Pleasants Valley’s Silent Stay Retreat Home and Hermitage

Emptying the Mind to Fill the Heart

Ruth and Bruce Davis

Ruth and Bruce Davis

Ruth and Bruce Davis, founders of a nonprofit that promotes inner peace, believe that silence allows us to access our hearts, which helps us to discover and nurture our highest selves. For more than a decade, within their practice of silence, meditation and love, the husband-and-wife team has offered what Travel and Leisure magazine named “One of the World’s Top Ten Retreats” in Assisi, Italy. They recently returned to California to open their newest center, Silent Stay Retreat Home and Hermitage, located north of San Francisco in Vacaville’s Pleasants Valley.

They also have written several books, including Monastery Without Walls: Daily Life in the Silence and The Calling of Joy, and have created a meditative movement DVD, Sacred Movement Ritual. Ruth is a devotional dancer, spiritual counselor, hypnotherapist and certified teacher of Ayurveda. Bruce is a spiritual psychologist and teacher of world religions.

“Each of us can uncover the beauty that lies deep inside our hearts,” says Ruth. “The heart holds an ocean of peace and silence, which is our true self, our true home. And it answers the question, ‘Who am I really?’”

Bruce began offering retreats in Assisi and throughout Europe in 1986. In 1999, Ruth and Bruce created a center in the heart of Assisi to honor world religions, which Pope John Paul II blessed for its nurturing interfaith relations. During the life of Saint Francis, this location was the original courthouse of Assisi, Ruth explains. “We transformed a place of judgment into a place of non-judgment,” she says. For the past 12 years, the Davises offered retreats in their 200-year-old farmhouse, just outside the ancient walls of the city, which became the inspiration for Silent Stay Retreat Home and Hermitage.

According to Ruth, occasionally retreating from today’s hectic world is imperative. “The amount of input we have is overwhelming,” she says. “To spend a few days in silence, nature and meditation helps to clear out the mental worlds, outwardly and inwardly, that have crowded our hearts. Resting in the gentleness of our ground of being brings us amazing clarity and infinite joy.”

Silent Stay is nestled on 25 acres in Vacaville and surrounded by nature, walking trails and fields of native greenery, and it is pleasantly void of everyday city sounds such as honking horns, freeway traffic and construction work. The grounds are also free of cell phones, computers, WiFi and other “worldly” devices and services. Ruth describes it as an emptying of the mind that allows for receiving to take place.

“You have to let go of everything you carry, and go deep inside and receive the vastness of your heart,” she says.

The daily rituals at Silent Stay are simple: a morning meditation to welcome the new day, a gentle movement meditation mid-morning and an evening meditation to end the day. The time in between is free. Guests prepare their own meals in a spacious gourmet kitchen. The European-style retreat home has six bedrooms, which can be private or shared, a community living room with a fireplace and inside or outside dining areas. There are no timetables for meals, no to-do lists and no chatter. Each guest is asked to share and observe the silence while on the property, thus supporting everyone’s retreat experience.

The Davises’ home, attached to the retreat center, is an integral part of the retreat facility because it houses the meditation room. They continue to be inspired as they watch how the silence leads each person perfectly. “The retreats are for people to come into contact with their hearts and their own personal journeys,” says Ruth. “And when they find the sweetness of who they truly are, there’s nothing more beautiful than that. We are simply thankful to be able to share the space.”


Jaime L. Mathews is a freelance writer and former Natural Awakenings publisher, who lives with her husband and family in the East Bay Area. She recently experienced Silent Stay and plans to make more journeys back.

Silent Stay Retreat Home and Hermitage is located at 3570 Cantelow Rd., Vacaville. For more information, call 707-474-4833 or visit SilentStay.com.

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