Vespers at Pilgrim Place 9/1/16


Surprised by the Spirit!

While the Birds’ Nest remains in our family, last summer Dwight and I determined that this wonderful chapter of our lives had come to an end. Forty-five summers in our beloved cabin in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota were a gift beyond measure. Let me share just a few memories–

Wonderful friends, the Spring Creek Valley community, Custer Lutheran Fellowship, Custer State Park and the buffalo round-up, watching Crazy Horse emerge from a mountain on its way to being the world’s largest sculpture, Pine Ridge Reservation and Red Cloud’s grave, as we learned more about all the injustices Native Americans have experienced; the Badlands, Wall Drug, so many family and friends who have shared time with us there, Cheyenne Crossing and Spearfish Canyon with it’s amazing Roughlock Falls,

Dwight and Kristin sharing the Enchanted Village—rock formations on the ridge across from our cabin where they saw dragon’s breathe on the wall of the house of the tailor just I nside the city gate and once they found a snake sunning herself in the princess’ bedroom–such imaginations; the reading of many, many books (no TV ever and hardly any radio reception!) and the writing of others; visits to the fire tower on Bear Mountain, being evacuated for five days during the Jasper Fire which provided a forty-five minute  lesson in what to load in the car and what to leave behind; watching the 87,000 acres of ponderosa pine trees that burned begin a forty year recovery; hiking around Sylvan Lake and driving the Needles Highway in Custer State Park, being a part of the Black Hills Playhouse family with season tickets every summer, going up onto Crazy Horse’s arm and standing under his nine-story tall carved face—a leader of his people who was stabbed in the back while under a flag of truce by a U.S. soldier; monumental ice cream cones at Mt. Rushmore, savoring the artistic delights at our favorite Gallery where the owners hosted our 50th anniversary party,  the Valley Rally with neighbors. The memories go on and on!!!

Celtic spirituality teaches me that we come from the earth—we are one with the earth. Love and deep friendship come to us through our senses—as gifts, as GRACE.

Love, John O’ Donohue says, is the most real and creative form of human presence. Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other.” (15) “To be holy is to be home, to be able to rest in the house of belonging that we call the soul.” (John O’Donohue, Aman Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, p. 28).

And this is what I want to share tonight. We never have to give up “our home.” Whether it is where we live now, in an independent home, or a place in Pitzer, or in HSC. Our home is “in the house of belonging that we call the soul.”

When we understand HOME as our soul–as that place where we are open to the surprises the Spirit opens in our presence, we are freed from feeling “homeless” when the Spirit nudges us to let go of a most beloved place. HOME is wherever we love and are loved—by God and by loving and caring family and friends. We are blessed here, because we have said we intend to be present with and to help each other—that is what it is to be a part of our intentional community.

Last summer, we experienced that Spirit nudge that said, “It is time to let go and to close this wonderful chapter of your lives and to move on to the next chapter where God’s love and grace is also to be found.

Our Birds’ Nest (‘Vogel’ is bird in German) where we put down roots for forty-five summers; where we watched our children grow up and our grandchildren and even our great-grandchildren share the wonder of waterfalls and the Milky Way right over our heads, of thundering buffalo and majestic elk, of tiny forget-me-nots blooming in flowing mountain streams; that most loved and holy place that nurtured our souls with beauty and wonder for almost half a century, will now become a sacred and holy memory as we move on to the next chapter of our lives.

Part of my grief work, was to make a coffee table book which is here if any of you would like to catch of glimpse of our Birds’ Nest over the years after Vespers. The “Birds’ Nest” sign—made by a dear friend, now hangs outside at the back of our Pilgrim Place home where we can see it from our deck.

HOME for now is on 8th street here at Pilgrim Place. We pray that God’s grace will keep us open to the Spirit’s nudge when it is time to move to Pitzer or wherever the next chapter of our lives is to be.

Sisters and brothers, dear friends, let us find the freedom to listen for the Spirit’s gentle and sometimes not so gentle nudges. Let’s help one another be pro-active rather than re-active! There can be joy as well as tears when we dare to let go and to move into yet another chapter of our lives!

As Noela Evans says in Meditations for the Passages and Celebrations of Life (Brussett, SL, p. 99): “The stage of my life has changed; old doors are closed and new ones now stand open. … Hello and greetings to the heart and soul of this new setting. I honor this place that will shelter me, and I embrace the changes and opportunities that this move invites into my life.”

May it be so for each of us whenever the Spirit nudges us to step out of our now-home, and into the new home God beckons us toward.  Amen.



To the home of peace

to the field of love

to the land where forgiveness and right relationship meet

we look, O god,

with longing for earth’s children

with compassion for the creatures

with hearts breaking for the nations and people we love.

Open us to visions we have never known

strengthen us for self-givings we have never made

delight us with a oneness we could never have imagined

that we may truly be born of You

makers of peace.

[1] John Philip Newell, Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace, 2011, p. 52.

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