Lindsay's blog

At Summer's Turning

09-20-2017 | Lindsay

“Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone…”
David Whyte

I heard the first geese a few days ago, flying overhead, their calls to one another heralding autumn, the season of mystery and transformation.   The tupelo trees have been sending out their own bright signals, leaf by ruby leaf.   For weeks until now, the forest has shimmered with glinting green light, without nuance or hint of fall. Perhaps it is the way the late summer sun falls against the trees, which remain full to the brim with green foliage made dense by bountiful rainfall.  A multitude of mushrooms decorate the forest floor: some rosy red, others pale, nodding on delicate stems, still others orange or brown, diminutive or broad.  Wild grasses and plants burst with yellow, magenta, bright blue blossoms; insects sing.  The garden is bursting with growth, and the peach trees and grape arbor lean gracefully, heavy with ripe fruit.


07-29-2017 | Lindsay

The dark green leaves of the vine-laden, twisted old ash tree are twinkling in the light after the sudden rainstorm.  Beyond it, down by the creek, the ancient willow stump is fat and full with graceful, slender branches rising directly out of the gnarled core.  July at Rolling Ridge has meant an outpouring of untamed green life, driven by capricious skies: nourishing downpours giving way to brilliant sun, and back again.  It’s a changeable season, unpredictable; and that seems of a piece with affairs on all levels of our world right now.  Whereas the rockiness of the wider, political world foments distress and anxiety, the topsy-turvy tumble of rain and light in our small nook of the universe gives rise to exuberant foliage and riotous green life.  The Earth holds it all, the trouble and the joy, but it is hard to find footing.


06-11-2017 | Lindsay

I'm bringing you this afternoon a little story about what happened in the Rolling Ridge garden on a rainy evening in April.  Rolling Ridge is a haven for wilderness and wild things, a place for Partner Groups to renew themselves in faith and friendship, a cradle for ministry and retreat and study, a laboratory for permaculture. For me, though, its essence has always been the call to live in community, which I believe is the one thing being asked of humanity on every level from the personal to the cosmic in this time. The call to community has a tenacious and essential pull, like gravity, yet, honestly, we do well to look before we leap, for there is real risk in launching forth.  Here is a warning from Adrienne Rich, a poem called “Prospective Immigrants Please Note”:

Next Doorways

05-31-2017 | Lindsay

The rain has played with the clouds and the peeping sun for days.  Sometimes the forest glows lush and golden; then it drips and drips, the earth sucking at our galoshes.  Nothing lasts for long.

Here spring is in full swing.  Outside my window, bluebirds are nesting in the box fastened to the old smoke house.  Brilliant blue and orange, they flash from tree to box, bearing a morsel of caterpillar, or sweet grasses for their nest.  Back and forth they go, slipping again and again through the small, round opening, into the mysterious dark interior and back out again. 


04-27-2017 | Lindsay

In an old story, it takes Christ three days to let go of all that holds him to this world, including the breath of life, and journey to the underworld. There he “harrows” the darkness and the depths, as an ancient farmer might probe and stir and prod the soil for planting.  Then on the third day he stands next to Mary in the dawn twilight so utterly changed that she doesn’t recognize him, her dearest, most intimate friend. It is Easter, the fire feast of the Resurrection, when Christians hold services at dawn and look to the rising sun in the East while the Earth turns green again and flowers. Thus the holy, uncontrollable alchemy of descent and inception, release and grace, death and transformation, is celebrated.

Extraordinary experiences

03-29-2017 | Lindsay

February had days and days of balmy breezes; insects hummed; the tree frogs made the pooling creek water boil.  Then in March a bitter storm cracked tree branches and froze the forsythia blossoms.  The days lurched from sunny warmth to sullen cold, and the wilting daffodils nodded amid crumbling brown leaves: an erratic, unsettling season. 

Things are turbulent on every level. We know this.


03-15-2017 | Lindsay

The evening has fallen. Our day of silence is slipping into another, darker realm. I am remembering a haiku by Alexis Rotella:

No moon tonight
I light a candle
And listen to the

We can do this

02-14-2017 | Lindsay

There is a chickadee outside the window.  It has lighted on a slender branch of the nearly leafless bush and is turning its black-capped head this way and that while its little body dances briskly, feathers puffed against the chill.  The day is harsh. A bitter wind tosses the tree tops. A dusting of snow, remnant of a fierce winter storm to our north, lies in patches over the curled brown leaves on the ground.  Not lovely, nor inviting, still the rugged scene is worthy of contemplation: the nuthatch running up the tree trunk, the sudden red flash of the pileated woodpecker, the woodshed tarp rippling in the wind.

Sitting on the Rim

01-22-2017 | Lindsay

I expect that 60 miles away, the nation’s capital is vibrating: filling with celebrators and protesters: the triumphant and the grieving, the jubilant and the angry.  I expect that it is loud and edgy and unsettled.

At the gate of the new year

01-02-2017 | Lindsay

This was a reflection offered near midnight on December 31, in the candlelit Meditation Shelter at Rolling Ridge, part of an annual gathering of friends and journeyers to cross the threshold together.  I began writing it while on the way to visit family in North Carolina on the day after Christmas.

Learning to Walk in the Dark

12-08-2016 | Lindsay

Advent always was an interim time, spanning the threshold between the harvest festivals of autumn and the vulnerable, fierce hope of Christmas.  That “betwixt and between” time and place, where things tend to happen, wove itself around us as we gathered for retreat in a time when the forest waited, bare-branched and leaf-carpeted, for that first snowfall, likely still weeks away. 

In a season when it is traditional to think about the coming of the light, I was pondering darkness.  It seems that this Advent falls at a moment of history when the world is in an up-ended, uncertain, and, yes, frightening between-time, when we struggle to know how to be and what to do and how to behave as things all around us in politics, in governance, in world affairs, and in our psyches, slide toward the dark.

How Silence Will Save the World

11-24-2016 | Lindsay

This was the opening reflection for the Friends of Silence Board Meeting November 20, 2016.

Our country and our world is in a good bit of trouble right now.  We live in what storyteller Michael Meade calls “black dog times”. The tale goes like this:

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. 


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."

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.

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