Welcome to Grace Notes! If you feel called to join along please link up in the comments section below with any post that expresses your gratitude and reverence for the "little things" in your life. Share on your blog, spread the word on Facebook or any other social outlet. Let's slow it down and enjoy our time and remember to be thankful for all the moments that make up a day in our lives!!
Here are some of our older youth during their part of our retreat weekend!
A few years ago, DH and I had agreed that living in some sort of intentional community is how we wished to lead our lives. Living in service to each other yet extending beyond those borders and into our wider community. We had agreed that living closely with others who wished to live mindfully and with their hearts turned toward raising our children away from the focus of modern society, to live with those who wished to walk more gently on the Earth, and to live with and challenge others to lead a life full of spirit and grace was exactly where we hoped to land. In order to fulfill that dream we applied to be house parents in a Camphill setting. (You can learn more about Camphill here ) We chose Camphill Kimberton in Pennsylvania because it was a good, sort of, midway point from my family in NY and my husbands in KY. As we began to fill out the paper work to begin our moving process we accidentally discovered a home that was available, in a Quaker Intentional Village, right where we were currently living! I have lived in this part of the US all of my life and never knew that this village existed, right in my own backyard!! We felt that we were being asked to consider this as an alternative to a rather large move. We inquired, met the folks within the community, and before we knew it we were moving in! It was a smooth process, a process where we could feel the spirit guiding us, assuring us, that this is where we were meant to be.
Farm road leading into the woods
We moved into the Quaker Intentional Village - Canaan (you can learn more at our website ) and quickly connected deeply with those within the community. Our children integrated seamlessly with the 7 other children on the land. Sleepovers were almost immediately set up, all day play dates, baking days, woods exploration days. The ability children have to just be in an experience is so beautiful to watch. They release all of their inhibitions, their fears, and the unknown. They taught us to dive in head first and not fear the uncertainty of our new life. Within months we had all felt so loving welcomed and desired more connection with those around us. The feeling was mutual.......thus we began our process towards membership in this amazing community of people who dreamed of a life outside and expectations.
Pathway within the woods
Part of being a member (or prospective member) with this community is being able to partake in their bi-annual Community Retreats. Every Spring and Fall members of this community gather for the weekend and spend it's entirety together in growth, spiritual practice, mindful work, meals, emotional stretching. It's a beautiful way to honor an entire weekend together........and that is just how we spent this past weekend. I am so deeply grateful for the lives of those on this land that remind me of the higher purpose of my work. They help me to remember my abilities and my strengths and yet honor my weaknesses and allow me to move through them, holding me up to be able to hear the grace in my actions and words. This weekend retreat was all about "Pathways: Actual and Spiritual". We planned a few hours of active, purposeful work. The group I participated in worked on actually clearing and marking paths within the woods that back our many acres of land. How deeply profound that experience was; the people I shared the day with, the emotional and spiritual shifting I experienced, the laughter, the sharing, the silence. It proved to be just wonderful, even when I fought it .......and at times became a bit grumpy!
Our older youth also participated and had their own "micro retreat" within the larger retreat. They, after spending some time together on the roof of the Farmhouse, came up with idea of "It's all about the View". The view from the rooftop of the Farmhouse, our internal views, how we view others, the view from our windows. When they presented their experience of out Saturday afternoon session I believe we all could clearly identify with what they had come to us with. I believe we as the elders also experienced a view from another set of glasses, some of our perspectives may danced to a different tune, some of us may have been able to see each other from a different point of view. Our children come to us with many wonderful messages........this held a particular candle to the rest of my retreat experience. I found that I would remind myself that my experiences, good or bad, are all about my view......how I see what's happening, feel, hear. Maybe if I could allow for a difference in perspective and understanding certain things might turn out differently. Children are so wise.
As the weekend came to a close, we shared with each other what worked and what we might like to see as next steps within our community. I know for my individual next steps I hope to spend more time along the paths I helped to clear with those who I have come to love so dearly; the paths between our homes, the paths within the woods, the paths where we meet in worship and in solitude. I hope to walk with the children, more frequently, up the new set of steps that were built this weekend and that lead to our developed center. I hope to meet those who live here, with me, more frequently in the spaces we hold together, to share moments of reverence or to simply just be.
Life truly is all about the view........