Last weekend the Rolling Ridge Study Retreat board and the residential community came together for our annual retreat. The experience for all of us was wrapped in awareness of the changes afoot here. Luke and Joy had just moved in one week earlier, with their little daughter Wren and newborn son Gael. Only a week or so before that, we had had our last community supper with Bob and Jackie.
The first session of our retreat was given over to each of us sharing what we brought to the moment. This is what had risen in me:
Over the 4th of July weekend, our son Tim's family came for a visit. On Friday Scot called us over to the little pond at Woodhaven so the children could see a surprise. Thursday we'd had a rain storm, which apparently put the frogs who live around Woodhaven into an amorous frenzy. They were whoopin and hollerin all night. The result was thousands of translucent eggs clustering just under the smooth surface of the pond. They glistened like tiny pearls trembling on the green grasses and along the smooth stones at the edge. All that fragile potential, suspended in the cradling water.
The image has stuck with me as Iíve thought about this moment in the life of Rolling Ridge. The children were captured by the pond's evident and ebullient life. They squealed at sighting the tadpoles wriggling and darting through the soft green water. They held their breath, stealthily extending their small fingers toward the adult frogs resting placidly amid the water plants, then laughed when the frogs plunked quick as could be into the water.
The wild life at the pond was thriving. Those eggs had every possible chance of hatching and becoming rippling tadpoles and frolicking frogs. Yet one swipe of a child's errant hand wielding a stick or tossing a stone and a hundred or more might be lost.
It feels like a fragile and vulnerable time for Rolling Ridge just now. Full of life and pregnant with potential for sure. And also newly laid and trembling.
We are a new community, after all. Each half still grieving the loss of what had been only a few weeks ago, both in Harrisburg and here on the mountain. All of us anxious and hopeful of the new bonds and strands that will begin to twine and wrap us into a common life of unknown depths and possibilities.
Here ís what I remember, though, when gazing at that little pond. There is such a thing as grace. The universe takes care of its own. Those eggs, fragile as can be, are surrounded by that liquid, earth-toned water, which holds them , waiting for the tadpoles to emerge. In all my years of community and journeying along the path of the new story (and they have been many) I have never, not once, found myself in a waterless pond; it is just not possible.
There are lots of questions. Who is, what is, this new community? Will we be friends? What is my role, my place, my home here? How will we live? What will nurture us? How will we write our chapter, this next chapter, in the story of Rolling Ridge? How shall we remain rooted in the soil of the founding vision and mission and blossom into our own expression?
Not only are there questions, there is always pushback. Life in the pond is not without its challenges. Tonight I am writing this, Thoreau-like, by candlelight, the power having gone out after a brief and violent storm. When the power goes out, we have no running water, since the pump from the spring house goes down. We have no way of knowing how long this will go on. We have been out for as long as a week in the past.
Yet here is what I know. The sky in the west is a luminescent blue swath of lingering light, the sun having set long ago; the trees are dark and graceful silhouettes out my window. Fireflies twinkle and glow, fairy lights in the woods. Scot and Josh are seeing about the generator. I have gallons of water to share, stored in old Glut Food Co-op syrup containers in my basement. Thus, our newborn community begins its treasure trove of shared experience, the stories of firesides to come. The eggs are all right.