A Walk on the Perimeter Trail

07-17-2016 | Lindsay

I cannot cause light;
the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.

Annie Dillard

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

It’s summer, the sun’s shining season at Rolling Ridge, and everything is a riot: wine berries, honey suckle, sunflowers, mint, Queen Anne’s lace, kale, garlic tumble over one another in the garden and across fences and railings.  Grasses spring up behind the mower five minutes after it has passed.  The grape arbor is leaning, barely able to stand under the weight of the ripening fruit.  The forest floor is awash in green growth, barberry bushes, and paw paw

Under the Sun

06-20-2016 | Lindsay

One beautiful morning at Rolling Ridge a few days ago, the sun-kissed air was serenely cool and fresh. The tall and slender trees in the luminous forest arched overhead like a cathedral ceiling. Even the call of the jay was music while the mist curled in graceful mystery through the branches and the sun gleamed just beyond, turning the edges of the green oaks and maples to gold. I couldn't help but know myself blessed and lucky, to be dwelling here, not just among the trees, but with a small and valiant community of people who are constructing a life together as much as we can in connection with the earth and this place, and in our best moments humbly willing to be taught and to learn together.

Rainbow over Homestead

05-27-2016 | Lindsay

It rained every day since the weekend straddling April and May, when 16 women on retreat here had gathered around the two who were carrying little ones in their wombs and under their hearts. Humming softly to a gentle drumbeat in tune with the Earth's rhythms, we blessed the mothers and the children to be, while the rain whispered in misty droplets on the roof of the Meditation Shelter.

The Green This Time

05-27-2016 | Lindsay

I am staring out the window at another day of clouded skies and fitful rain, the twelfth in a row. In the last days of April, we made a fire in the woodstove at the Meditation Shelter to warm us as we told stories, danced, and drummed together during a women’s retreat. It’s almost two weeks on from then, and I am still throwing on a jacket to walk in the gray mist.

Yet the forest glistens and glows; and when the sun shines, even for a fleeting afternoon, the trees are radiant. I had imagined that Mary Oliver’s poem, "When I Am Among the Trees" was written in autumn; but I see I was wrong:

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

Daily Presentations

05-01-2016 | Lindsay

Tomorrow begins the women's retreat, "Restorying the Heroine's Journey" here at Rolling Ridge. We who are participating are supposed to bring a story from our lives as women. In preparation, I've been pondering; mulling over what some have called "the Divine Feminine"...and trying to come up with a story, one which (as suggested) calls to me, that won't let go. But all I can think of is the azure blue indigo bunting at the feeder a couple days ago: iridescent, nearly glowing; and the red breasted grosbeak, striking and regal, who appeared at the very same place this afternoon. Mary Oliver's words come to mind: "Every day I see or I hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light."

Wisdom School 2016 with Cynthia Bourgeault and Deborah Longo: Audio Files

04-19-2016 | Friend of Silence

The Force of Attention by William Segal
Parabola, Volume 15:2, pp. 332-333

Attention is the quintessential medium to reveal man's dormant energies to himself. Whenever one witnesses the state of the body, the interplay of thought and feeling, there is an intimation, however slight of another current of energy. Through the simple act of attending, one initiates a new alignment of forces.

Maintenance of a conscious attention is not easy. The movement, the obligations of day-to-day existence, completely distract. With no base of operations no home in one's organism, the attention serves random thoughts, feelings, and appetites that conflict and tyrannize each other.

April Here

04-12-2016 | Lindsay

Recently, Scot brought to my attention a poem by May Sarton called April in Maine:

The days are cold and brown,
Brown fields, no sign of green,
Brown twigs, not even swelling,
And dirty snow in the woods.
But as the dark flows in
The tree frogs begin
Their shrill sweet singing,
And we lie on our beds
Through the ecstatic night,
Wide awake, cracked open.
There will be no going back.

Here it snowed on the tulips. The sky has been a kaleidoscope of purple, indigo, and cobalt clouds sliding in and out across the horizon. The pine trees just east of Niles Cabin hum and cough in a gusty wind. It's cold: a fierce April.

Sunrise Fire Reflection

04-07-2016 | Lindsay

A few nights ago, as we walked east along the path between the garden and the sheep field, we looked into the indigo sky, where the nearly full moon was an immense and glowing disc just above the ridge. In the morning, after its night journey, the moon hovered, an orange ball, over the opposite horizon. Moments and sights like these herald a renewed recognition that we are in a thin time.

The Transmission of Wisdom

03-03-2016 | Friend of Silence

A sharing delivered by Cynthia Bourgeault on November 13, 2016 to a group of "Wisdom interns" preparing for the Wisdom School at the Kanuga Episcopal Conference Center in North Carolina.

Listen to this story from Kabir Helminki in Living Presence about the  transmission of wisdom:

A Sufi came to a remote village where he knew no one. After meeting some people he found that those of this village had an unusual hunger for spiritual knowledge. They invited him to share his knowledge at a gathering they would arrange. Although this Sufi was not yet fully confident that he could transmit spiritual knowledge, he accepted their invitation. Many people attended that gather and the Sufi found his audience to be extremely receptive to what he had to say, and most significantly, he found that he was able to express the teachings he had received with an eloquence he had never before experienced. He went to sleep that night feeling very pleased.

Drinking from the Well

03-02-2016 | Lindsay

We are in an ephemeral time here at Rolling Ridge, an indefinable season between winter and spring. Our friend Cheryl is repairing her bluebird boxes while patches of crusty snow line the side of the gravel road. Days ago, a bitter wind chilled faces and bones. Yesterday the frogs sang their mating songs and danced in the pond by Deer Spring Creek. Leaves lie brown and crumpled on the forest floor while daffodils cluster greenly around the porch and by the compost bin. Josh and friends prune berry canes and bushes in the garden; a fresh batch of potting soil waits, while the utterly bare branches of the trees overhead remain tangled against the drifting clouds. At night, the stars are brilliant points of light in the still-sharp winter sky. The moon glistens behind high clouds.


01-28-2016 | Lindsay

Snow began falling Friday afternoon, lazily, drifting effortlessly from a soft gray sky. Within hours the mood had changed; it became swift and determined, tiny particles careening downward, as Mary Oliver says, "...irrepressibly" into a world "which is falling apart now, which is white and wild..." ("Walking Home from Oak-Head" in Thirst). After nightfall, outside, sweeping snow from the porch, steps, and path in a futile attempt to keep ahead of the storm, the flakes were shimmering, iridescent grains of light dancing in the beam of my headlamp.

Why I write

01-17-2016 | Lindsay

It was a wind-whipped, changeable afternoon.  Clouds and rain gave way to sun, then swept in to shower some more and left again on another breath.  The swirling duet of rainfall and sunlight fit my mood as I looked over the winter-ready garden and the never-quite-occupied horse barn toward the forest.  I was thinking about the perpetuity of change, the ever-receding horizons of the land of transition, and trying to make my peace with it.  The lacework of cloud shifted, and gold light caressed the water droplets trembling on the paled leaves of the dogwood and the brown honeysuckle vines, making them shine like tiny crystals suspended in the current.  There is beauty in that, I thought.

Catching Light

01-03-2016 | Lindsay

A week before Christmas, Scot and Linda hosted a festive community supper to celebrate this thin and holy time of year.  We feasted, exchanged gifts, acted out a wacky rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and listened delightedly to Linda’s fanciful and entrancing telling of the tale of Louhi, the mischievous witch of North Farm who stole the sun and moon (and eventually returned them).  Before telling the tale, Linda explained for the children, and the grown ups, the phenomenon of the solstice, drawing out the waves of light and darkness moving in their circle dance.  This is a wide season, a long threshold, as the light and dark perform their incremental, stately, and endless exchange.

Seasons Greetings

12-15-2015 | Lindsay

It's a warm and snowless Advent here on the small mountain where we live. In another year, I would write about it--the mist laying softly around the gray trees, the loamy smell of the leaves heaped over the trails and forest floor, the thunk, thunk of the red-bellied woodpecker coming muffled in the wet air. The fact is, though, that for the past month I have been immersed in a different world.

In the first days of November I traveled to Greensboro, NC,  to help out during the birth of our fifth grandchild, the third in that family. I was there primarily to give a hand with the children, getting them to school (4th grade and pre-K); and with meals and household chores. Our son is a first-year teacher in a middle school in Winston-Salem, a 45-minute commute. Hired just in September, he was not eligible for leave.

Secret Senses

11-03-2015 | Lindsay

We had our second annual Rolling Ridge "All Saints Eve/Halloween-Day of the Dead-All Souls celebration" on October 31, 2015. The day went like this. We gathered Saturday afternoon for a time of preparation. Last year this included the making of sugar skulls and lacey cutouts; or this year, we made creatures from the gifts of the forest: persimmons, twigs, tupelo leaves. Next we dressed the altar with pictures of loved ones passed on, things they loved and held, and their favorite treats. We spent a little time telling stories, sharing bittersweet memories. Then we put on our wild selves dressed in all manner of costumes and processed from house to house. At each house there were treats for the children and much laughter and the taking of pictures. It ended with a party by the altar featuring a smorgasbord of dishes relished by the honored dead.

On the Rich Edges

10-19-2015 | Lindsay

The gift of autumn has arrived at Rolling Ridge in all its green and auburn and gold and blue-sky splendor. Into the midst of this, just as the forest was beginning to paint itself in new hues and the air to sharpen, came the retreat, "Between the Body and the Breathing Earth."

The Funnel Weavers

10-05-2015 | Lindsay

On the morning of the autumnal equinox we awoke to mist. It curled around the sunchokes and blackberries in the garden and floated amid the forest oaks and maples. In the early twilight, the mist hung like a gray gauze curtain over the lingering dark. It was not soundless, but deeply quiet. As the sun rose over the ridge there appeared in the grasses of the sheep field and in the tufts clustering at the base of the fruit trees ethereal, small dwellings, woven of pale silk. They dotted the landscape: delicate diminutive domes, cloud castles.

Grace for the Work Day

09-11-2015 | Lindsay

On Saturday of the Labor Day weekend, many friends of Rolling Ridge came together to help us haul and split wood for the winter, clean and re-organize the Retreat House, fix the spring, and tend the garden. This is an annual, joyful event, filled to the brim with good work, good food, and laughter. At 1 pm we paused for a festive potluck lunch, before which this grace was offered:

In her introductory paragraph to the September issue of the Friends of Silence Letter, (this month, appropriately, on the theme of work) Linda quoted Wendell Berry:

"Good work is a way of is unifying and healing...It defines us as we are: not too good to work with our bodies, but too good to work poorly or joylessly or selfishly or alone."

A Birthday Gift

08-30-2015 | Lindsay

We celebrated Luke's birthday at community supper this week, which inspired me to write this short reflection:

Happy birthday, we say, knowing full well that each one of us is born into a world that is basically a crap shoot. Our day, at any moment, could be pleasant or terrifying; thrilling or sickening; serene or numbingly disheartening, or everything and anything in between. Around and within us whirl a mass of events, possibilities, images, newscasts, voices that refuse to coalesce into any descriptor at all, much less a word as wispy as "happy". "How are you today?" asks the man at the checkout, and we really don't know where to begin.

In all this, what makes sense? What would be a gift? What small, glimmering box could we cradle thankfully in the palm of our hand?


08-18-2015 | Lindsay

Annually the residential Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Community and the Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Board comes together for a time of building relationships, connecting, looking down the path ahead, and fun. This was the opening reflection for our weekend:

I am writing this on the eve of the Rolling Ridge residential community and board retreat. We are mid-month, the night of what some would call a new moon and others the dark of the moon.

After a soaked summer, we've made it to the middle of August. The greens in the forest are tinting toward dark jade. Here and there, leaves are kissed with russet and gold. The light is beginning to slant. Walking home from community supper, we remark at the lengthening shadows, the nearness of nightfall. Soon we'll have to remember to bring flashlights.


07-18-2015 | Lindsay

It has been a watery summer, rain in many moods appearing on nearly 30 of the last 40 days. We have had almost 15 inches in the last several weeks, more than we usually get in a whole summer. It drizzles, showers, spits, pours, storms; it comes capriciously in fits and starts, or thunderously in colossal downpours. Our roads are rutted, leaves mounded and cast aside by careless torrents. Our streams and rivulets gush; the waterfalls cascade and splash; wading pools on Krishna Brook and Rocky Branch are thigh high.


06-18-2015 | Lindsay

On a night two weeks ago, 15 women walked single file through the woods singing softly on their way from the Retreat House to the Meditation Shelter. The clouds played tag with the waxing moon, but still it shone like silver through the dark trees. As the group approached the Shelter, they saw candlelight glowing through the windows and heard the pensive cadence of a Native American flute. At the door, each was asked, "Are you willing to enter the door that leads to the realm of heart and soul and mystery?"


05-28-2015 | Lindsay

The fields of our residential community: the little one behind Pinestone, and the larger one that embraces the garden and often hosts the sheep, are awash in shades of green. The grasses are growing, it seems, more than an inch every day. The hummingbirds are back, dancing in the azaleas; the whippoorwill sings like a fool in love outside our windows and doors every night. Rabbits and squirrels hop and scamper. In the garden, radishes are busting out of the earth, lettuce and kale and an array of other growing things make a thick green blanket from fence to fence. Insects buzz and hum and chirp and whirr. The wood frogs trill and the air is thick with pollen dust and the smell of warm earth. The rain and chill of only a couple weeks ago is another world.

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