Dear Community and Friends,
I hope I have met you. I hope yours is one of the many familiar faces I’m happy to see when I walk into the retreat house or that your name is one I recognize in stories of this place. If not yet, soon.
My husband, Keith, and I moved into Homestead two and a half years ago, but time sure flies when you’re busy learning how to wield an axe or start a persnickety weed whacker. Living at Rolling Ridge comes with a steep learning curve. I am still meeting new people and becoming acquainted with the vast network of individuals, families, and communities who love, support, and bring life to Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Community.
On the topic of “steep learning curves” and “bringing life”, Keith and I welcomed our first child this Spring. May I just say, Wow! What an intense journey! You know how adding salt to food brings out the flavor? Having this little boy in our lives does the same; it brings new potency to the sweet spices of each day. I find myself watching the bashful flicker tend her nest with much more interest. My son’s enchantment by the parade of smiling visitors has become my enchantment.
The flipside is that less pleasant emotions are also magnified. Notable examples of social and environmental injustice fill me with a fear and sorrow that extends beyond anything I felt before because now I feel it for my son as well. Images from this year haunt not only new mothers. We all have a love for the next generation that puts a hand to our shoulder saying, “We can do better. We must do better”.
At times like this I have found hope in what’s happening here at Rolling Ridge Study Retreat. Comparatively it may seem small, but it is no small thing to have an extensive community of people care for one another; willing to support each other in their common values and to engage civilly in discussion around differences. It is no small thing to hold a space for people to gather, to renew, to dream, and to tell a new story.
This year our story took shape in retreats that made a safe space to ask questions, affirm faith, and imagine deeply. Children ventured into the wild to play and learn. Women shared their joys, struggles, and hopes. Folks gathered, to pause on Good Friday and to dance in Advent.
Decades ago Henry and Mary Cushing Niles said this land is “a place for spiritual people to light”. Today it is aglow. Folks have expressed interest in greater involvement in retreat work. The residential community, board, partner groups, founders, and new friends are surveying and tapping talents and energy for planning and hosting retreats on a broad swath of topics from the meaning of faith in uncertain times, to meditative arts, to racial justice.
In 2016 we redesigned the website to enhance communication with partner groups and extend an invitation for newcomers to enjoy the blessings of this place. If you are on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook you might notice that we are too! Check out www.rollingridge.net for reminders of upcoming events, to hear stories from the mountain, or to see pictures throughout the seasons.
This has also been a year of new and tangible steps in continuing to preserve this expanse of land. The larger Rolling Ridge Foundation has drafted a plan to heal and sustain these forests. The residential community at RRSRC is highly involved in the visioning and execution of this plan.
We are primed and motivated for a heap of good work in 2017! We invite you to continue your involvement in these endeavors, either as you have in the past, or in new ways. Come visit us! Take part in a retreat, join in a work day, make a personal retreat, stop in for the weekend or a cup of tea. Make a tax-deductible financial contribution. Donations are used to maintain and stock the retreat facilities. Funds also go to ensuring that our retreats are affordable for all. If you would like to financially support the work of holding this space for retreat and renewal please consider making a gift.
I’m thankful to begin my family here at Rolling Ridge Study Retreat. Living at RRSRC provides ample opportunity to practice and model the values I profess. It gives me countless examples of hope and healing. And, like being a new parent, Rolling Ridge Study Retreat reminds me to ask for help, to accept the gifts and guidance of others, and in so doing to know that we are not alone.
Whether we’ve met or not, I’m thankful for you. Thank you for loving this space. For sharing your dreams, your time, and your energy. We are grateful.