[RivCompanions] update

Christine Gilson chrisgilson at mac.com
Mon Jul 14 14:02:14 UTC 2014

I can be there Friday aft /eve and Saturday but not otherwise

> On Jul 14, 2014, at 9:00 AM, "McKay, Murray" <murray.mckay at siemens.com> wrote:
> October 4 looks doable for me.
> From: rivcompanions-bounces+murray.mckay=siemens.com at justus.anglican.org [mailto:rivcompanions-bounces+murray.mckay=siemens.com at justus.anglican.org] On Behalf Of Virginia Brown
> Sent: Monday, July 14, 2014 8:08 AM
> To: Companions of the Rivendell Community
> Subject: [RivCompanions] update
> Dear Companions,
> Since I first wrote about the issue involving marijuana at the Motherhouse, several of you have had questions and/or offered comments, and it seems that it would now be well to provide a little more information, including something which has just come to light, so that we’ll all have the same information, and be in a position to make better sense of what has happened, and to make decisions about the future.
> In my first letter I was somewhat reticent, wanting, I suppose, to avoid any unnecessary damage to Susie’s reputation, and to protect those who had come forward with information as well—especially since valued friendships are involved.  Also, I didn’t and don’t want to state as factual matters which are disputed.  (Nor is there any particular need to “get to the bottom of it”; decisions were not made on the basis of disputed material.)
> Of particular concern is that growing as well as using marijuana was involved, although this is an area in which Susie’s assertions differ from those of an eyewitness who reports being taken to see plants in two specific locations, and being given to understand that there were others in various locations around the property.  This, of course, is a more serious charge legally.  Susie acknowledges only one plant, which was Abby’s.  We have no reason to suspect that there was ever any selling by anyone, and the Council of Advice required that all marijuana plants be destroyed immediately—which we believe was done.
> Sadder to me, I learned yesterday from a friend of the Community who has been here for several retreats that at the beginning of November she and a friend of hers, otherwise unknown to the Community, were offered marijuana at the Motherhouse.  She says that she accepted—partly out of friendship for Susie; she spoke with regret and contrition, for having done it in the first place and for not having mentioned it.  She said that she felt that it “besmirched holy ground.”  Her friend, who also works in the legal field, didn’t participate, but apparently looked on with shock and disapproval; it’s fortunate for all involved that she didn’t deem it her duty to report the goings-on to the civil authorities.    As you know, a similar incident of sharing pot with retreatants (one a friend, one otherwise unknown) occurred on July 4. 
> One or two of you have wondered whether there might be some compromise possible.   In a way, this is a compromise; an initial reaction to the disclosures was, “Call the sheriff!”  I want you also to know that we’re making efforts to be generous in helping Susie and Abby—and Ed—get settled in a new situation, financially and in encouraging her to take whatever furnishings, supplies, groceries, etc., she may need or want.   I’ve thought about whether there might be some way of avoiding the need for Susie and Abby to move, and I have to say that anything which would address the situation or be even remotely acceptable to the Council of Advice would, I’m reasonably sure, be completely unacceptable to Susie.
> Finally, several members of the Community (and I’ve discovered several others who are not members of Rivendell) have commented on observations or suggestions, often from quite some time ago, that all was not well—smelling marijuana, being concerned about levels of alcohol consumption, more general concerns about Susie’s functioning.  In retrospect, I feel as though I might have known what was going on; it was just so far off my “radar,” my expectations.  I bear some considerable responsibility.  I think we all wanted to do the best for Susie, and no doubt to avoid useless conflict.  But maybe one thing we can learn from this—me included—is that we really do have some responsibility for and to one another, and if we see something amiss, it’s often better to address it—certainly if it’s a matter of legal and/or moral wrong-doing.  Heaven knows, we’ve had all too many examples of religious institutions failing to face problems, or covering them up, and it just doesn’t turn out well.  Maybe we could have headed off this situation before it grew to its present proportions if we’d been more proactively our sister’s keeper.
> Yesterday, in conversation with our members in Kansas City, David and Lisa, we recalled that sentence in the agreement regarding sexual conduct which applies much more widely, that members of Rivendell are expected to maintain at least the level of ethical behavior expected of parish clergy.  We are, in a special sense, representative persons; and we don’t go around “besmirching the holy.”
> Clearly, there will be significant issues to deal with regarding the future direction of the Community and the Motherhouse in particular:  Can we keep it?  If so, should we?  In what direction should we now move?  Does this event, which can without exaggeration be described as tragic, open a possibility for “repristinization” of the Rivendell Community?  (Thanks to Cathy for reminding me of how fond I am of this word and concept!)
> Therefore, I propose that we plan to meet, as many of us as can, in a special general chapter, perhaps in late September or early October, giving the dust a chance to settle and see where we are.  I think we will need actually to be together rather than just to exchange emails.  I realize that not everyone will be able to come, most likely, but I hope as many as can will do so.  Suggestions for dates?  Is a weekend best for most people?  What about the weekend of October 4, Yom Kippur/St. Francis of Assisi?
> Much love,
> Virginia
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