Frequently Asked Questions
What does Ruah mean?

“Ruah” cannot be translated by any single English word. It is a Hebrew word (רוח אלוהים) that sometimes indicates “breath of life force,” “wind,” “the movement of air,” or “spirit.” In Hebrew scripture “ruah elohim” is the creative wind of the Lord. We use circular shapes as symbols for Ruah Center. The circle was an ancient Christian symbol for God, community and the universe. Our circle is in motion, suggestive of T. S. Eliot’s “still point in a turning world,” the silent center being God and the circular motion being our turning around and focusing on our creative center. In the east, the circle is a symbol of enlightenment.

Who is welcome at the Ruah Center?
Individuals who seek a few hours of prayer, a day of prayer or a longer period of retreat are welcome. Groups who intend to give significant time to silent seeking and later sharing out of the silence are also welcome. (However, for an individual’s or group’s first time in silence, we offer one day stays only, from morning until afternoon. For subsequent visits, an overnight can be considered.) The convent chapel, the grounds, and the places of quiet for listening and prayer are open to all those who desire to come.
What are the accommodations?
Guests stay in simple dormitory style single rooms with shared restroom facilities. Three meals are served
each day.
What is the cost?
We do not have a set fee; however, we ask that everyone apply 2 Corinthians 9:7 and give what you can.
Why is silence nonnegotiable?
A great part of our mission here at Ruah Center is to invite people into the ministry of silence with us; to help people experience, to know, an alive silence. In other words, we desire to help ourselves and others learn the language of God so that all of us might better translate the Mysteries out of a firsthand hearing in the heart. This choice for silence and solitude is countercultural. It is experienced by some as embarrassing and awkward, but we nonetheless invite you to taste and know by heart the fruitfulness of this practice.
What spaces are available for prayer and worship?
We provide several areas of “spiritual breathing space.” We have two group meeting rooms: Bethany for smaller groups (15 or fewer), and Emmaus for larger groups (up to 35). The Oratory is for personal quiet prayer. The Icon Room, where the Mystery of Incarnation is reflected in line, image, color, and beauty, is for quiet meditation by those drawn into the Mystery this way. Lebh Shomea, Hebrew for “listening heart,” is our listening room providing space for sacred reading, journaling, or listening to music. In Kairos, you may pray with your own creative expression using art supplies, writing or movement.

The Sisters celebrate the Liturgy of the Word and Eucharist Monday through Friday. If you’re interested in
joining them, speak with your spiritual director. The Villa Chapel is not regularly used for daily Eucharist but
is available for groups when the group’s size warrants it. The Chapel is always available for personal
prayer.

Who is available to assist with spiritual direction?
The Ruah staff includes several spiritual directors. If you do not already have a spiritual director here, we’ll assign one for your individual retreat.
Are shuttles available from the airport or bus terminal?
When you need us to meet you and transport you to and from an airport or bus terminal, please send us this
information in advance of your stay. We can provide transportation during daytime working hours only.

If you fly into Houston, we prefer that you come into Hobby Airport, if possible. If your airline flies only into
Bush Intercontinental Airport, however, be sure and check into the possibility of free commuter flights to
Hobby or bus service to the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown. Both airports offer shuttle service. If you come
by bus, we can pick you up at the downtown Houston bus terminals during daytime working hours.

How do I get to Villa de Matel?
We are located at 6510 Lawndale in Houston, Texas 77023. Take the S. Wayside exit from I45, the Gulf Freeway. (If you are traveling south toward Galveston, turn left on Wayside. If you are traveling north toward downtown, turn right on Wayside.) Drive half a mile to Lawndale, but watch out, the left lane splits! The left side goes under Lawndale and the right side takes you to the light where you need to turn left and go over the bridge. After turning left, drive on until you see the Villa’s main gate on your left at 6510 Lawndale. Pull into the driveway and park somewhere in front of the building. Enter the double doors behind the fountain
and the receptionist will direct you from there.