Blogs

Long Time Coming

04-23-2014 | Lindsay

Thoughts shared at an Easter fire near the Retreat House at sunrise
(Photo by Scot DeGraf)

The view looking in

03-04-2014 | Lindsay

Celtic Art by Welsh Artist Jen Delyth
www.celticartstudio.com

Yesterday, March 3, it snowed again; about five inches.  We've had so many snows this winter from early December to March that I've lost count.  This snow was light and dry and it almost instantaneously crusted over.  The juncos trip lightly over its surface, heads bobbing into tiny holes and tracks left by the squirrels.  The ground is once more stunningly white, the ever-higher March sun polishing the light to a cut-glass brilliance, even through the lingering pale gray clouds.  I'm at the bottom of my capacity to draw meaning from the wintry landscape.  I've thought every thought about the resting trees, the stark beauty of stripped branches, the cycle of death and life, the hidden seeds.

Winter

02-14-2014 | Lindsay

This last weekend a small group of us gathered at Still Point Mountain Retreat for "Simply Silence". Between mindfully pausing to mark the hours in the Benedictine rhythm, there was time for experiencing the many dimensions of silence while wandering in the winter woods, making art, dreaming, meditating, and reading or writing as each was led. This is what emerged for me:

Thought for the New Year

01-04-2014 | Lindsay

On New Year's Eve a handful of us gathered in the Meditation Shelter near midnight, having walked there under a starlit, velvet sky. The shelter was aglow with candles and and firelight. There we welcomed the new year, "full of things that have never been.", as Chardin says. We shared poems, songs, quiet, and a few thoughts, of which this was one:

Christmas Nativity 2013

12-25-2013 | Bob Sabath

O Holy Angel,
wide-winged stranger,
above a forgetful earth,
care for us, comfort us,
enfold us with your love,
and keep us safe from danger,
and not regretful,
and not forgetful
of our wonder-filled birth.

Adapted from poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

This is a copy of a nativity set originally made over twenty-five years ago by Ginny Soley, Linda and Scot DeGraf for Sojourners and later Circle Church Christmas celebrations.  The original copy is now at Sojourners magazine where I now work.  About two weeks ago I traced them, brought a coping saw, and cut and painted three sets in time for Christmas!

Thresholds

12-15-2013 | Lindsay

"In a Star-Filled Night", an Advent retreat, took place at Rolling Ridge in early December. This short sharing draws on experiences, poetry, and conversations from that retreat.

Winter has arrived early and hard to our small mountain. Most years it is mid-January before we see snow. We've had three snow storms already, a stretch of bitter cold, and sleet and freezing rain in the forecast. The several inches of snow on the ground has crusted over, crunching underfoot as we walk to check on the sheep or close in the chickens. The trees are bare and black against a pewter sky. The dark comes early.

Welcome O Life

08-22-2013 | Bob Sabath

Reflections on the Day by Stefan

Today and yesterday we have been together around Jesus words "I desire compassion/mercy and not sacrifice and religion." Startling words both then and now. It begins as always in the depths. It begins in the heart where compassion and mercy are born. Today we are reflecting around how this might happen through the powerful way of encounter. What capacity of heart is called for as we truly encounter another human being? What capacity of heart that brings us to a place of transfiguration?

May a slow wind work these words of love around you

08-21-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily reflection from Stefan

Today we spent the whole day working/playing with poetry and hearing the rhythm of the words and receiving the beauty and goodness of the sounds and the meanings. We introduced a new poem today. The poem is called Self Slaved and it is by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh.

Intentionally we immersed ourselves in the inspiring poems that challenge us to go further, deeper, to descend, ascend, expand, retreat.

Hearing the poems read aloud by different people, pausing to breathe, to listen to what comes up, to share if we wish, to speak of what is, to listen to that voice within which is our soul, to be in the company of those who are able to walk with us, to drink more deeply from the Fountain before each other and to see in each others eyes the reflection of truer self. This is the gift we offered to one another in our ongoing Pilgrimage of Peace.

Wherever you are is called Here

08-20-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily Reflections by Stefan

Today we gathered in small group to listen to one person tell the story of hearing their life's call. It was a story that has ripened and is ready to be told. As we listened to the struggles, the moments of clarity and confusion, the desire to live from the heart's deep longing and purpose, it was clear we were on holy ground. And our shoes came off. What a great privilege and honor it is to listen to another's life story.

Peace Pilgrimage Reflections - August 20, 2013

08-20-2013 | Mary Ann Welter

Reflections on the Day by Mary Ann Welter

The mist cleared quickly after inviting stories, mythical and real, of other fogs and mists. The day became clear and sunny, and tonight we have a full, bright "blue moon," currently visible just about in the top center of the window over my desk.

Here are the story threads for today:

The Fountain

08-19-2013 | Bob Sabath

Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts. I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched—but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
refreshed.

Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.

by Denise Levertov

There is a field

08-19-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily Reflections by Stefan Waligur

My entry today is a slight shift from the verbal to the aural. I want to share just a few thoughts on an experience we shared last night and this morning at Pilgrimage of Peace.

There are so many "things that make for peace," aren't there? One of these has to do with the peace power, the healing power of voice as we share our voices together with and for each other. SO much can be communicated through our precious voices.

So, last night we began a little experiment/exploration. A small circle gathered round one person who expressed a desire/need for prayer. As the small circle encircled her they placed their hands upon her shoulders and head and began to sing/chant a simple sound of oh-chone. It's an approximation of an Irish sound used in laments.

The Zen of Kettlebells

08-19-2013 | Friend of Silence

No matter how many years I've attended, or how easily I slip into the familiar, beloved rhythms of the days, the gifts of pilgrimage are always new and surprising. Case in point:

Rick Wigton and I had talked a couple of times since the 2012 pilgrimage about kettlebell training, which is an important part of my life (when I'm not retreating, of course). He had recently purchased a kettlebell and a training video, and when he and Melissa arrived at pilgrimage, he asked me to help him with his technique--there were some things he wasn't understanding from the video, and both of them wanted to make sure he wasn't doing something that would end up injuring him.

I'm always very happy to teach (and prevent injury!) so on my next trip home, I loaded up about 125 pounds of kettlebells into the back seat of my longsuffering SUV and hauled them up the mountain. We cleared out the side patio of Stillpoint, laid down yoga mats, and got to work.

The Return of the Mist

08-19-2013 | Lindsay

This morning the mist returned. This time it didn't curl and wisp so much as descend and envelop. Not quite fog, still it was thick enough to wrap much in mystery. As everyone knows by now, mist is one of my favorite forms of the water element we have watched so persistently emerging from the rock wall. It's not wholly water though. Mist's essential trait is that it is neither water nor air; it is an in-between being.

Interestingly, mist imparts startling clarity to the things close in: the trailing purple edges of the hanging spiderwort plant, the determined curve of the hummingbird's head at the feeder, the nonchalant grace of the cat licking her paws in the green deck chair. While in the wild woods beyond, all is shrouded, quiet, waiting.

It was just what I needed this morning.

With what vision do I enter the world?

08-18-2013 | Bob Sabath

Reflections on the Day by Stefan Andre Waligur

Today we looked at the creation account in Genesis and compared this with the story of Jesus' resurrection. Out of darkness and chaos comes light and creative call. We asked the question: With what vision do I enter the world? What goodness and beauty do I long to see? We held lightly the question: What is my passion/compassion? We imagined God creating the world with emotion and attitude. We saw Jesus rising from the dead in passion and compassion. All of this and more stirs us to do the work of soul. Where is my passion/compassion leading me?

The story of the sleeping King sparked some beautiful sharing of personal stories. All around the question: What genius, what nobility sleeps within waiting to be awakened?

For Christ plays in ten thousand places

08-18-2013 | Friend of Silence

Peace Pilgrimage Reflections for August 18, 2013

Just one of the many wonderful things happening at this year's pilgrimage is the way the sessions help us draw so many connections between scripture, story, poetry, and memory. It is a rich tapestry we are weaving!

During the discussion of the resurrection story, Stefan recalled the beautiful lines from Gerard Manley Hopkins' "As kingfishers catch fire:"

... for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

That, in turn, reminded me of another poem, by American poet Virginia Hamilton Adair, which for me drew together so many of the day's themes and connections: playfulness, tears, calling, vision. It is one that I long ago committed to memory, so that I am never without its blessing. Enjoy!

Games with God
by Virginia Hamilton Adair

Is it time to cross the threshold?

08-16-2013 | Bob Sabath

The theme of day was discernment. How do we know? How do we know the time? The time to cross a threshold? The time to stay where we are? The time to wait?

What is my song?

08-15-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily Reflections by Stefan

Today we welcomed a new group of pilgrims to the Pilgrimage of Peace and said farewell to others. So, we begin again.

We shared the story of the woman at the well (Eugene Peterson's paraphrase called the Message) and Jesus from John's gospel. Peterson's paraphrase makes for lively imaginative reading/hearing. We appreciated the robust character of the conversation between them. Out of this edgy talk can come good learning.

We shared the poem called The Fountain by Denise Levertov hearing it once and then engaging in the poem with a kind of call and response form line by line, back and forth aloud. We noticed the connections between the gospel story and the poem.

We looked more closely at the first Beatitude: Blessed are those who possess nothing and no one. Blessed is your thirst. Blessed is your hunger.

Peace Pilgrimage Reflections -- August 15, 2013

08-15-2013 | Mary Ann Welter

Notes from Mary Ann Welter

Poetry has been a focus today. Stefan said: "The power of poetry is like a daily vitamin or maybe a heart medication." He also described poetry as an "endless well." He encouraged the pilgrims to consciously ingest goodness and beauty every day, whether in form of poems, nature, music, whatever nourishes.

We spent time on "The Fountain" by Denise Levertov with our new group of pilgrims.

Questions were offered along with the invitation to let questions arise within each person. In small group time, participants were encouraged to choose from any of the offered questions or start with their own question(s) for sharing with one another.

Give back your heart to itself

08-14-2013 | Bob Sabath

Today we shared several stories from the Gospel of Matthew and some stories from the ancient Irish Celtic lore. Comparing them is a helpful practice. The Gospel passages are: Matthew 9:18f — the story of the woman in need of healing who touched Jesus' robe. "I will be well," she said. Good words for us too. And the story of Jesus taking the hand of a dead girl and raising her to life ("Arise, My Love...") in Matthew 15:21f — the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman.

The Irish Celtic stories are: the story of the seal woman and the story of the fox woman. In both the Celtic stories the man in the story is faced with a decision. Although he shares Jesus' struggle in the moment, he responds in the end very differently from the Jesus in the Gospel story.

The Beatitude today was: "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."

Awaken Your Spirit to Adventure

08-13-2013 | Bob Sabath

Brief Highlights for the Day by Janie Blakely

Today we looked at the fourth beatitude, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Justice." The Beatitudes now begin to move into an active mode. Out of an acceptance of our shared poverty and grief we become more gentle and non-violent . Now we are ready to enter the world. Now we are able to enter the world with a hunger for justice.

We read together two stories from the Gospel of Matthew 15:29f. Jesus sees the hungry crowds. He says, "My heart goes out to the people." What follows is justice. The people receive what they need.

A question for us is:

It Acts Like Love: Music

08-12-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily practice: might I suggest that we take some time to walk in nature and get reacquainted with this beauty and depth that surround us. We are part of this beauty and depth. We belong to the earth. And in a way that is new to me I am coming to see that all of nature desires to be in communion with us. Somewhere a poet says that "the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."

Day Four Reflections by Lindsay McLaughlin

Let's review the past few days. The beauty of being together for more than just a few hours or a weekend is what we have here: the opportunity to go deeper. So, we'll have some new material today, but we are interested in knowing what spoke to you most clearly, in the material we worked with over the past several days; what is the heart of the goodness for you?

How to Hear the Voice of Call

08-11-2013 | Bob Sabath

Today we focused on the question: How to hear the voice of Call, the voice of the Beloved? And how do we distinguish this voice from the other voices that Mary Oliver speaks of when she says, "those many voices with their bad advice."

Always the collective wisdom of the community gathered is helpful. Sharing of individual stories followed and personal insights emerged and were cherished.

Three threads were woven together:

  • the Gospel passage John 20:1-18, the story of Mary and Jesus post resurrection
  • the second beatitude in Matthew 5:4 — "Blessed are those who mourn"
  • the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke called The Swan

The song we shared at mid-day was Deep Within a Song is Heard.

The reflection questions for the day

Peace Pilgrimage Reflections -- August 11, 2013

08-11-2013 | Bob Sabath

Reflections from Janie Blakely
Shared Stories: Lights on the Path of Peace

As is usual on this journey of the spirit called "The Pilgrimage of Peace," this afternoon we gathered for lunch on the deck of Still Point cabin. It is a rare August day—clear, yet mild. As we sat atop a mountain above the Shenandoah; numerous butterflies and hummingbirds joined our gathering, supping on the flowers while we savored fresh veggies and pasta salad. We were also nurtured by sharing stories of our lives with one another.

Just as our bodies were replenished with food, our spirits were nourished by wondrous stories about an unexpected Appalachian blizzard in 2003. We marveled as we heard tell about two friends who trampled all day through 36 inches of snow to get to the only shop around for miles in order to pick up milk, rice and especially—dog food.

Mushrooms and Water

08-11-2013 | Lindsay

It has rained a lot this summer, steadily, or in brief showers, or sudden downpours, or misty sprinkles; all day, or only for a minute or two; out of stern, gray skies, or pearly clouds. All this generosity has had an effect. Seed potatoes and strawberries planted in April have flourished. In fact the whole 1300 acres of Rolling Ridge has burst forth in a riot of green growth. Looking out my kitchen window, I could swear that the walnut tree at the corner of the field near Homestead is several feet taller than it was the day before. Bamboo down by Deer Spring Creek has reached out and over the foot bridge. Grass seems to spring up fully grown behind every sweep of the mower; tomatoes and wineberries ripen minute-by-minute in the garden.

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