[RivCompanions] update

susanna601 at aol.com susanna601 at aol.com
Mon Jul 14 15:02:15 UTC 2014

Becca and I can be there - 
-----Original Message-----
From: Virginia Brown <mothervirginiadb at gmail.com>
To: Companions of the Rivendell Community <rivcompanions at justus.anglican.org>
Sent: Mon, Jul 14, 2014 8:09 am
Subject: [RivCompanions] update

Dear Companions,
Since I first wrote about the issue involving marijuana atthe Motherhouse, several of you have had questions and/or offered comments, andit 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 thesame information, and be in a position to make better sense of what hashappened, and to make decisions about the future.
In my first letter I was somewhat reticent, wanting, Isuppose, to avoid any unnecessary damage to Susie’s reputation, and to protectthose who had come forward with information as well—especially since valuedfriendships are involved.  Also, I didn’tand don’t want to state as factual matters which are disputed.  (Nor is there any particular need to “get tothe bottom of it”; decisions were not made on the basis of disputed material.)
Of particular concern is that growing as well as usingmarijuana was involved, although this is an area in which Susie’s assertionsdiffer from those of an eyewitness who reports being taken to see plants in twospecific locations, and being given to understand that there were others invarious locations around the property. This, of course, is a more serious charge legally.  Susie acknowledges only one plant, which wasAbby’s.  We have no reason to suspectthat there was ever any selling by anyone, and the Council of Advice requiredthat all marijuana plants be destroyed immediately—which we believe was done.
Sadder to me, I learned yesterday from a friend of theCommunity who has been here for several retreats that at the beginning ofNovember she and a friend of hers, otherwise unknown to the Community, wereoffered marijuana at the Motherhouse. She says that she accepted—partly out of friendship for Susie; she spokewith regret and contrition, for having done it in the first place and for nothaving mentioned it.  She said that shefelt that it “besmirched holy ground.”  Herfriend, who also works in the legal field, didn’t participate, but apparentlylooked on with shock and disapproval; it’s fortunate for all involved that shedidn’t deem it her duty to report the goings-on to the civil authorities.    Asyou know, a similar incident of sharing pot with retreatants (one a friend, oneotherwise unknown) occurred on July 4.  
One or two of you have wondered whether there might be somecompromise possible.   In a way, this is a compromise; an initial reaction to the disclosures was, “Callthe sheriff!”  I want you also to knowthat we’re making efforts to be generous in helping Susie and Abby—and Ed—getsettled in a new situation, financially and in encouraging her to take whateverfurnishings, supplies, groceries, etc., she may need or want.   I’ve thought about whether there might besome way of avoiding the need for Susie and Abby to move, and I have to saythat anything which would address the situation or be even remotely acceptableto the Council of Advice would, I’m reasonably sure, be completely unacceptableto Susie.

Finally, several members of theCommunity (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 ofalcohol consumption, more general concerns about Susie’s functioning.  In retrospect, I feel as though I might haveknown what was going on; it was just so far off my “radar,” myexpectations.  I bear some considerableresponsibility.  I think we all wanted todo the best for Susie, and no doubt to avoid useless conflict.  But maybe one thing we can learn from this—meincluded—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 ifit’s a matter of legal and/or moral wrong-doing.  Heaven knows, we’ve had all too many examplesof religious institutions failing to face problems, or covering them up, and itjust doesn’t turn out well.  Maybe wecould have headed off this situation before it grew to its present proportionsif we’d been more proactively our sister’s keeper.
Yesterday, in conversation withour members in Kansas City, David and Lisa, we recalled that sentence in theagreement regarding sexual conduct which applies much more widely, that membersof Rivendell are expected to maintain at least the level of ethical behaviorexpected of parish clergy.  We are, in aspecial sense, representative persons; and we don’t go around “besmirching theholy.”

Clearly, there will be significant issues to deal withregarding the future direction of the Community and the Motherhouse inparticular:  Can we keep it?  If so, should we?  In what direction should we now move?  Does this event, which can withoutexaggeration be described as tragic, open a possibility for “repristinization”of the Rivendell Community?  (Thanks toCathy 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 ascan, 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 togetherrather than just to exchange emails.  Irealize that not everyone will be able to come, most likely, but I hope as manyas can will do so.  Suggestions fordates?  Is a weekend best for mostpeople?  What about the weekend ofOctober 4, Yom Kippur/St. Francis of Assisi?
Much love,

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RivCompanions at justus.anglican.org

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