Blogs

Constructing the Lantern of Soul

11-23-2016 | Lindsay


The Annual Meeting of the “Study Retreat Associates of Rolling Ridge” (our official name) is a gathering of the residential community, the Board, our Partner Groups, and friends. It occurred on Saturday, five days after the election. I wrote a piece for the opening of the gathering. It was meant to be both a report about life and activities at Rolling Ridge and a reflection. What follows is an abbreviated version.

...Hope, for me, means a ….sense of uncertainty, of coming to terms with the fact that we don’t know what will happen, and that there’s maybe room for us to intervene…. Rebecca Solnit (from an interview with Krista Tippett on “On Being”)

A boat, a wind, a blessing

11-03-2016 | Lindsay

We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty. GK Chesterton

I have been thinking about this two-sentence quote.  I saw it first in paraphrase form in an email from a friend.  The paraphrase collapsed the “men and women” into the collective pronoun, “we”. It left out “and tragic”, and the preposition “to”, and made the whole quote one sentence, so that it became,

We are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.

The Fierce Gift

10-06-2016 | Lindsay

By the time a small group of us gathers for our Advent and Winter Solstice retreat The Gift of Story in early December, it is probable that the U.S. presidential election will at last be over. Perhaps the ads, mailings, rallies, debates, harangues, solicitations, and polls will have ceased.  What is certain, however, is that the rancor and bitterness, the isolation and anger, the pain and suffering here in this country, in the Middle East, and around the globe will have dissipated not at all.  The forces that marred the summer and now the fall don’t care that the holy seasons of Advent and the Winter Solstice promise light in the darkness.  Fear and anger rampage on through the world. We will gather in December with full and breaking hearts. 

Equinox

10-01-2016 | Lindsay

The first mist in many months appeared and lingered all morning, curling among the trees and around the garden and sheep shed.  Everyone knows I have long loved this insubstantial Being: an interim element, neither air nor water. Around here, autumn is her homecoming.  The arrival of mist signals that change is afoot, a shift in atmosphere and temperature, a turning of the seasons.

The afternoon and days following were clear, sun-soaked, and warm, the trees mostly as full as ever, the moss on the forest paths lush and bright emerald; the forest glowing green all around.  Seasonal change is all in good time.

Rain and Incarnation

09-16-2016 | Lindsay

It rained early one morning, a brief respite in the dry spell; not a determined rain at first, it fell softly, a low patter in the canopy. Nevertheless it was a presence, a caress on my jacket and the stony path, gentle droplets condensed somewhere in the pale grayness far above misting on my face and hands. I was thinking about Jesus.  In early December we will have a retreat that falls in Advent, and that season, for me, is rich with wonder and the poetry of Incarnation. The stories tell of a baby to be born, a Holy Child, embodied Love, a child fully human and Divine.  It is amazing to me, how the unseen can become tangible in this world.

David Whyte’s poem “What To Remember When Waking” has these lines:

To be human
is to become visible,
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others.

The Interim

08-21-2016 | Lindsay

After days under a sultry blanket, the woods and the air all around this morning swirled with wafts of coolness, and Billy and I decided that the day called for a walk.  As we walked up the path called Peachey Trace, trailed by our cat Olive, patches of light and shadow in the trees made a crisp, motley pattern in the clear, dry air.  For the first time in weeks I wore a cotton sweater. 

I was on the lookout for a red leaf.  Three years ago Beth Norcross, founder of the Center for Spirituality in Nature, led a retreat here at the end of July.  She noted that the black gum tree begins turning before all the others, throwing out small, crimson teasers of autumn’s possibility one by one, even in August.  I found four.

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.

Layers

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.

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