(Photography by Joy Houck Bauer)
As the year turned and a new decade opened, a small group gathered in the Meditation Shelter on New Year’s Eve. Having walked from the Retreat House in silent procession, we gazed in awe at the crescent moon, a circlet of light in the black, starlit night. The Shelter welcomed us with candlelight and a glowing fire. There we reflected in silence, and offered poetry, chant, story, and quiet dance. How absolutely important and wonderful it is that Rolling Ridge provides simple, beautiful spaces for ceremony and for prayers in the divine night.
We need places that invite depth, that offer ground. Only weeks after that night, a virus began to undo the world we had known and shutter all our plans. By spring, as the daffodils bloomed and the delicate, creamy blossoms of the serviceberries graced the still bare-branched woods, we had cancelled retreats and temporarily closed the Retreat House. Nothing was certain; the future was utterly unknowable. What to do now? Kate suggested a simple walk at sunset, repeated every evening. Just a few of us, making the circuit by our homes, walking in silence, bringing to mind all whom we love and hold dear, all that we missed and longed for, all that had been lost and all that would be. The walk ended in gratitude for our lives and in resolve for the work we have been given to hold at Rolling Ridge. Quickly the evening walking practice grew beyond the community here, connecting others — members of Partner Groups, and friends near and far — at a time that felt otherwise disconnected and strange.
In those first days of the pandemic, when everything was shut down and everyone was sheltering in place, we wondered how we might somehow still offer some of all that is RRSR to those who were surely missing it. The answer to this question unfolded piece by piece in the midst of 2020 and we were grateful to find that even during a pandemic Rolling Ridge could serve as a safe place for communities of faith and other moral concerns to explore new frontiers and pursue new possibilities for the well-being of the world.
With a spirit of curiosity and an ongoing commitment to offer the gifts of these 120 forested acres in whatever ways we safely can, we look ahead to 2021. It is a year that already promises newness and change at Rolling Ridge. Your generous donations will help keep RRSR active, inviting and hospitable. Funds will be used to maintain buildings, roads and meeting spaces. Portions of the donations will also be used to keep the costs of programming (whether online or in person) affordable for all those who want to come on retreat. We hope you will join us in contributing what you can, to support this place and its connections of spirit, faith and the wild earth.
Lindsay McLaughlin & Joy Houck Bauer
Should you choose to support the ongoing story of Rolling Ridge financially please know that your tax-deductible donation is very much appreciated: Donate Here
In light of Covid-19, Retreat House protocols were adjusted so that people could retreat here safely. Our Partner Groups and guests gratefully and graciously adapted to this new normal, limiting their groups to families and those quarantining together. We welcomed many more campers and visitors to the Cordwood Cottage this year, too! The guest book is testimony to this spirit: “What a new appreciation we have for all RRSRC does and is all about. We are so very grateful to have been able to visit with our family here during this worrying period in all our lives…” was one entry, another “Many thanks for doing what needs to be done to maintain this healing space, this amazing tract of land…”
As was the case worldwide, 2020 brought many of our normal operations and events to a halt. Several unexpected gifts and opportunities emerged in that time:
- November’s Annual Meeting was hosted by the board over Zoom. More than 40 people from all over the country joined us for a meaningful virtual gathering!
- “Restorying the Heroine’s Journey” moved to a global, online platform where it was offered twice.
- “Journey of the Heart” event moved online in a daylong, free offering.
- Socially-distanced, outdoor workshops for small groups on topics like basket-making, foraging, wilderness awareness, friction fire & permaculture
In 2020 we completed several updates and improvements to facilities. We replaced the mattresses in the Retreat House bedrooms. Community members refurbished the outhouse to encourage camping and visiting outdoors, as well as creatively rigged up an outside washing station with running water. Two separate tree-planting events (one through the Rolling Ridge Conservancy) brought 15 fruit and/or native trees to RRSR. We also hosted a socially-distant Fall Work Day in early September with a small group of generous volunteers. On the community side, solar panels generated power credits and we installed an energy efficient hot water heater in Pinestone residence.
Looking ahead to 2021, there are changes in store for RRSR. Two community families are moving away to their next adventures and new visions are incubating for possibilities at Rolling Ridge. In response, a transition committee formed to help dream, organize and give leadership the process of change ahead.