Lindsay's blog

Deep Into the Unexpected

12-22-2014 | Lindsay


The shadows of the trees in the creek valley behind Foxfire and Pinestone in mid-afternoon are long and slender strips. The sun's rays slant almost horizontal and deeply gold through the forest. It is nearly the winter solstice, and the dark comes early in this third week of Advent. It is a thin time, perhaps the thinnest of all: a threshold time of waiting and expectancy.

Stone Talking

12-15-2014 | Lindsay

Annie Dillard wrote a book called Teaching A Stone To Talk. It's a trick title. The book is about human beings learning to listen. Stones talk all the time.

This weekend there was a retreat at Rolling Ridge for Advent and the Winter Solstice. We spent some time in the Meditation Shelter tuning our senses and psyches to awaken to the animate, breathing world around us. We gathered by the glowing woodstove in candlelight and read poetry, danced gently, sat quietly, sang a bit, and told stories. Then we went out into the forest, that world, which as Mary Oliver says, "is faithful beyond all our expressions of faith, our deepest prayers", and listened.

Soul Abundance

11-19-2014 | Lindsay

The trees are beginning to unveil their skeletal frames, releasing leaves of truest hue to carpet the forest floor. Autumn is in middle age, and while bursts of scarlet and amber still explode in the woods, for the most part the trees stand dark and airy, branches crossed and twining against the blue and pewter sky.

Still Point

10-24-2014 | Lindsay

A couple weekends ago, a group of 16 people gathered here for a retreat called Restorying, which sought to help us cultivate, or re-cultivate, the stories that will sustain and nurture us in our time. On the first night of the retreat, we clustered near the head of the trail that leads through the enfolding forest to the pond, which waited in stillness below. Singing, we walked under the darkening trees, to a fire, where each one was asked, "Are you willing to enter the door that leads to the realm of heart and soul and mystery?"

This is the kind of stuff that goes on at Still Point.

Extravagance

10-13-2014 | Lindsay

I'm looking through my east window at the maple tree next to the woodshed. I can't take my eyes off of it. It's on fire, or at least pulsing with red-gold light, moving ever so slightly in a light autumn wind. For sure it's the angle of the sun's rays this time of year, hitting aslant, that makes the tree glow, framed elegantly by its still-green neighbors.

On the other side of our house, out the west window, this morning before dawn, the moon hung near the horizon. A full moon, it was almost completely eclipsed, a delicately traced dark circle holding a slender crescent of light.

If I were Mary Oliver, I would exclaim, "Have you ever seen anything in your life more wonderful..." or "every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight..." and then I would write simply magnificent poetry.

Autumn

10-01-2014 | Lindsay

Three nights ago, according to the planets and the stars, autumn began. For those of us walking through the forest to the Retreat House or splitting wood beside Homestead, the season's edges are less defined. For days and days the trees have stood green and glowing, suffused with shimmering sunlight as the air blows alternately warm and cool around them. Then a crimson leaf appears on the path to the front door and the maple and buckeye next to Homestead are tinged red and yellow. The scruffy, molting cardinals are shaking off their summer plumage, replacing feathers to stem winter's chill. Second by second, dark cloaks the earth earlier each night; songbirds are departing; we hunt in our closets for sweaters and quilts. All around, here and there, incremental but persistent change is happening.

Work

09-02-2014 | Lindsay

I suppose it's customary on a work day that falls on Labor Day to reflect on the transformative power of using our bodies and minds to create, restore, sustain, build, and assist life on this planet. At least, in some small way, that's what we hope we are doing as we split and stack wood, weed, sweep, and plant. During our last work day in March, we took a moment to recognize the beginnings of a new and hopeful vision for work among the Rolling Ridge community, whose members are exploring ways to help one another live and work in relationship with the land and ecosystems that surround us. We realized that this vision went against the tide of conventional expectations about how to make a living, but we felt it was a good vision and one that felt right for our community and that we should try.

Friends

08-30-2014 | Lindsay

I have been musing about friendship, a train of thought sparked by the recent visit of my very dear friend Pat. She arrived last Thursday, in time to join us for community supper. Before we ate, I shared the gist of my thoughts for the evening's reflection:

Pat and I have been friends for at least 36 years. We met when she came to do an internship at Sojourners; but our friendship really began when she and I fell into the habit of walking together, for miles and miles. We walked to work (about two miles down D.C.'s streets) and home again every work day of every week, for years. We walked other places too: around and through city parks and in the wildlife refuge that bordered All Saints Convent outside Baltimore. At some time early on in that cocoon of shared pedestrian movement, one of us cracked open just enough, a crack that spread to the other. A rush of vulnerable air blew in, carrying wonderment and friendship on its currents.

Among the Trees

08-12-2014 | Lindsay


Our family has been going to Chincoteague for a week or two in July-August for nearly 30 years, and this summer was no different. Only now the little boys have become men, husbands, and fathers, and instead of a dome tent or pop-up camper, our growing family rents a several-bedroom house (or houses). Not much else has changed, though. We still enjoy biking through the wildlife refuge, passing egrets and marshmallows, turtles, herons, and wild ponies; and setting up our rusty old chairs and rickety umbrellas on the coarse sand of the national seashore, accompanied by raucous seagulls and the rough Atlantic surf.

Frog Eggs

07-16-2014 | Lindsay

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:

Another Threshold

06-26-2014 | Lindsay

The reflection shared here has no tales of garden, turtles, woodpeckers; no sudden discoveries or mesmerized moments. It does have a back story, which begins: in the late 1990s, after more than a decade of involvement with the people and vision of Rolling Ridge, Bob and Jackie Sabath began their journey to residential community here. This meant, among other things, building a home. After profound giving of time, creativity, artistry, nurturing energy, sweat, and personal resources, a lovely, gracious and ever-hospitable home was built, Foxfire; and here Jackie and Bob have lived and loved for 15 years. Words cannot describe, but we all know, what a profound gift their presence (vision, dreams, energy, love, skill, compassion) has been for Rolling Ridge.

Abundance

06-26-2014 | Lindsay

No apologies this time. It just happens to be a season rife with opportunities for sharing reflections at various gatherings, and they seem to be coming only weeks or days apart. This one was given last Sunday morning as Circle Community gathered for worship at the Retreat House.

Study

06-09-2014 | Lindsay

I had planned to give this reflection at a Rolling Ridge Study Retreat Board meeting that was unfortunately cancelled. I gave it instead at a residential community supper. Afterwards I was encouraged by my friends to share it here. I hesitated because it was originally intended for a specific group of listeners. After consideration, though, I think that it is one way of telling part of the story of Rolling Ridge and in that way may be of interest. So:

Getting to Know You

06-08-2014 | Lindsay

Reflection given for the Friends of Silence Board Meeting

Being "friends of silence", we spend time wondering about what it is, as we would with a life-long companion or partner. At least I do. What makes him or her, or it, tick? What are its contours, its hills and valleys, its depths, its joys? What is its personality, its mood, on any given day? What or who is it?

I suspect, indeed, that these are the questions which bring readers to the Letter. They find inspiration in the quotes for sure, but deep down, they are asking, what is this silence we are all so drawn to? They read the Letter hoping for a glimpse at an answer, or perhaps at least a signpost pointing to another layer of exploration and wonder.

What's New?

05-24-2014 | Lindsay

It seems that life these days, or maybe all days, is like a swirling pool of stories and experiences that move in contradictory eddies; have you noticed this? Sometimes I have difficulty knowing what end is up, let alone how I should feel about it.

Still Point

05-07-2014 | Lindsay

This reflection was shared at a Still Point Mountain Retreat partners meeting on May 3, 2014.  It begins with a poem by Mary Oliver:

Messenger

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

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:

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.

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.

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.

Visitations

03-10-2013 | Lindsay

Up here on the mountain, for those of us hailing from Christian roots, we are in Lent, one of those thin times during which we are graciously vulnerable to visitations from the invisible world of the soul and the sacred. These come to us in forms both marvelous and astonishing.

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