Call of the Valley: Richard Garzarelli and Quietude
Richard Garzarelli brings a lifetime of knowledge and experience to Quietude, his newly transformed retreat on Montreat Road.
Garzarelli was born in Austria, moved to Naples, Italy, and moved again to a suburb of Philadelphia. This set of circumstances at an early age help to account for his broadened perspective when, as an altar boy, he questioned the sight of two neighborhood boys across the street pummeling each other at the behest of their father.
“I’d been taught compassion was a wonderful thing,” he said. “But here we all were right after church as a father, who was a respected doctor in the community, exhorted his boys to hit each other one at a time. The boys were in tears as they carried on his instructions though we had just been urged to love one another. When I told my parents, they said since we don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s house, not to worry about it. Nevertheless, it was the first time I stood up against hypocrisy and tried to confront what was really going on.”
At the age of 16, his dad, who had been an officer in the army and was now working in the private sector as head of security, had a breakdown. Garzarelli was enrolled in a Jesuit school at the time where he learned how to think, not what to think, and had read "Siddhartha" about the living Buddha and the harmony of an authentic, unifying spirit. He was very close to his father, a very spiritual man, and found him still deeply depressed even after coming home from a stint at a VA hospital. In effect, his father had been misdiagnosed, skirting around the fact the job had drained his spirit. Once again, like the incident with the misguided doctor, Garzarelli noted the result of a life devoid of integrity. It took 10 years before his father eventually found wholeness by working from home.
Garzarelli continued to encounter disconnectedness in one form or another. Working with juvenile offenders, for instance, creating a therapeutic pottery shop, influenced by Eastern mindfulness, he soon discovered the administration was corrupt and attempted to expose it. Later on, counseling individuals for a number of years and employing various modes of psychotherapy, he found the determining factor was the integrity of the relationship as he strove to be honest and supportive. This work was enhanced by his studies at the Naropa Institute of Colorado, which fostered eastern as well as western systems with an emphasis on being fully present, insight and transformation.
“If you ask me what my approach is, based on everything I’ve studied and my own life, I am open to everything," Garzarelli said. "I ask clients how interested they are in themselves and what avenues they’ve explored. I stay committed so that each subject can eventually leave with the special tools they need. It keeps me awake and spiritually sober, engaged in the abiding quest who are we and why are we here?”
Thus he views Quietude as a higher calling, a holistic center designed to alleviate moral distress, offering continuing education and an ideal ambiance for self-reflection looking deeply into the inner life. A place to explore spirituality and/or the search for meaningful work. He puts it all this way:
“People can do a self-designed retreat. You can do your own thing as long as it relates to the atmosphere we’re setting up here. Certain nights we’ll have a documentary, a discussion, music going on, yoga and meditation. The other option is working with guest teachers offering workshops in mindfulness, body movement and so on, but I get to vet the programs. I’m going to seek out those modalities, be they medical, spiritual, psychological, living in harmony with nature, the arts and so forth. Individuals can rent the cabins for just one night and people from the community can come for a program for a certain night. By the same token, I’ll let the next phase of my own journey come to me naturally.”