[RivCompanions] An important issue - please read carefully and respond

Virginia Brown mothervirginiadb at gmail.com
Sat Oct 26 14:59:26 UTC 2013

Dear Companions,

This will be a long letter--but please don't dismiss it as "TLTR" (too long
to read, as I learned from one of our younger members a few days ago!)  It
deals with a matter of considerable importance for the Rivendell Community.

Earlier this week the Council of Advice met and began a conversation which
now seems substantial enough that it should be a conversation for and with
all our Professed Companions.  What might we do now with our Motherhouse?

This isn't a brand new matter, of course, but several factors have
converged to present the issue in a new light:

- The George Herbert Institute will hold its last session in December.
While this hasn't involved a great deal of time, it has claimed one weekend
a month for the last several years.  It has been a significant ministry,
congruent with some of the goals of Rivendell, and has, I believe,
contributed very significantly to this Diocese.  Its demise, though sad in
some ways, does give us a clean slate, a calendar open to whatever we may

- Susie, as you know, is talking about marrying Ed, maybe in the spring.
This would involve some rearrangements, whether that means that she would
simply move back to the "little house" with Ed, or whether they would find
another house in the general area.

- Abby is now planning to live for a while with her birth mother Heather.
Again, this opens up some possibilities here, as well as, we hope, being a
good next step toward a happy, productive, independent life.

- I have been spending more time in Texas, and believe I'm of some modest
help to Elizabeth, Matt and the grandchildren, during this very demanding
and stressful period when Elizabeth is still studying preparatory to
ordination, has charge of a congregation, has three young children, and has
been quite involved with Rivendell-Texas, being the only professed member
there, although we now have two Novices as well.

- Also, of course, there's the factor that Susie and I are, well, autumn
chickens, and even with Ed's great help with the grounds, the two of us are
challenged in maintaining the House and its programs.

So... change is in the air.  But what?  We're blessed with a wonderful
property here--what shall we do with it?  What might God be pleased to do
with it?

Currently, the Motherhouse serves a couple of important functions:

- The retreat ministry, meaning both our periodic "themed" retreats and our
space and hospitality for many others, for personal and small group
retreats.  We have heard over and over how valuable and precious this is
for many, who find this a beautiful place of quiet, healing and peace.

- The Motherhouse serves as a kind of "center of gravity" for the
Community.  Practically, of course, it's been where we keep our records and
documents, prepare and send out materials, and so on.  I recall how Cathy
sometimes described the role of a congregation's priest as the one who woke
up thinking about her church, its members, needs and work... I suppose the
residential community of the Motherhouse is like that for Rivendell.

Here are some of the ideas, dreams, and possibilities we discussed:

- What if some of us (members of Rivendell not currently resident) who are
able to do so moved to the Motherhouse and "reinvented" its life and
mission?  In particular, we thought of three households who might do this,
and thought of what a wonderful combination of gifts, skills, passions and
energy this might produce.  Then, the House might welcome others--in
particular, we thought of mothers, perhaps with children, who need a safe
refuge and a place to be while rebuilding their lives.  What a place of
healing, with both practical help negotiating social service systems and
spiritual support and prayer--it could really be beautiful!  And what could
be done with this land, if we had some people with interest and expertise
in sustainable farming, for instance?  We've talked with the people who
first came to mind, and two of the three households were excited about the
possibility.  However, subsequent thought has raised feasibility questions
for them, so it's not clear now whether this might turn out to be a viable

- But perhaps there are others... others of you?... who might find
yourselves up for something of the sort?

- We might simply extend the current retreat and hospitality ministry,
doing more to publicize it, recruiting those who might like to conduct
retreats, and, again, finding more people who would like to live here and
help with this.  We have done rather little to publicize what we currently
do, and nothing, really, to look for potential residential members.  Would
there not be some who would find this attractive and be able and willing to
live in this way, temporarily or permanently?  Especially if we see our
sights ecumenically?  Maybe or maybe not--but how would we know without

- Or maybe, as I've been thinking, there is some other new ministry?  Any
of us could dream up a dozen in fifteen minutes, I imagine!  But what draws
us?  What might be feasible?

- We could explore joining forces with another existing Community, perhaps
one which doesn't have a residential component but would like to, if they
had resources.

- We could put the property up for sale.  Oddly enough, I've spoken with
someone twice this week who might be interested in purchasing it.  He has
pored over our website and looked at Google aerials and such.  Right now we
don't even have an appraisal, so estimating the value is guesswork.  (This
is, of course, a very tenuous business at present; no one has made any kind
of serious offer, and I've told him that, although the possibility has come
up, we currently have no plans to sell it.)  We could perhaps talk with a
real estate agent and get a better idea of what we might be looking at,
value and prospects for sale.  Should we do this, now or later, the
proceeds would of course belong to the Rivendell Community.  (This is not
to be confused with dissolution of the Community; the Community would then
decide what to do with the funds--perhaps begin something new elsewhere.)

So...As Guardian of this Community I am asking you earnestly to pray about
this, and also to share your thoughts and ideas.  For now, let's keep the
conversation on *this* list, among the Professed Companions, who would be
the ones to make such decisions.

Much love to all,

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