[RivCompanions] Let's try this now

Virginia Brown mothervirginiadb at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 23:41:15 UTC 2014

Okay, we're trying the refreshed and restored Companions list, plus
Associate and co-founder Donna, who contributed that excellent letter a few
days ago.

So far, the responses we've received about the proposed special GC meeting
on Friday October 3 have been predominantly negative, including those who
have indicated that they'd be able to be there for the evening, or part of
the day.  Let's try another alternative:  What about September 19, with a
similar schedule?

And, since several indicated that Friday was a problem but they would be
able to come for the weekend, which is better for you:  a weekday, a Friday
with weekend for continuing and/or travel, or a Saturday?  A couple felt
that we needed at least two days.  That would be wonderful, of course--but
this wasn't on anybody's calendar, and may not work... Would this be
workable for you, or does it make it less likely to be feasible?  Do you
believe we will need the time, or that our conversation will expand to fit
the time available?

We should go ahead and schedule this, so we can all put it on our calendars
now.  Again, we all realize we're not likely to get everybody, but it's
very important that everyone who possibly can be present and participate;
we have some critical decisions before us.

Along those lines:

This has been a shock to all of us, and each of us has been experiencing it
in our own ways.   There have been various feelings of responsibility
expressed, questions about whether there might have been ways of
intervening earlier on, and so on.  At the same time, there's an awareness
that the particular issue of marijuana use and sharing with guests, as
great a concern as that is, especially with the lack of recognition of the
difference between one's private property and the "sacred space" we hold in
trust, is connected with some larger issues which have been obvious and
worrisome for several.  We will all, I imagine, grieve the loss of Susie as
our companion as well as in her role at the House; and some will (or have)
started second-guessing what happened.

We do need to understand what happened and learn from it, and right now we
right here need to deal with the immediate fallout, to help with all the
arrangements surrounding Susie and Abby's move, including seeing that they
themselves have what they need and want (as is happening).  However:  *a
real danger to us would be to get "stuck" at this point, to keep trying to
analyze and re-analyze the events and/or our role in them (or lack
thereof).  This is not what we need to accomplish at the proposed special
GC!*  Instead, we will want to pray, listen, discuss, debate, and make some
decisions about how to proceed into the future--most immediately about the
Motherhouse property, but that will have implications for the whole

This past weekend I was with the Emmaus Chapter in Memphis, and greatly
enjoyed seeing them.  Although it was not the primary topic of the retreat,
we spent some time talking about recent events, naturally enough.  Someone
commented wisely that *stuff like this just happens--it happens sooner or
later to every religious community.  What counts is not that it happens,
but how the community deals with it, whether it tries to cover it up, how
it carries on.*   It's been important to a good many people (including both
our Episcopal Visitor Barry and the Bishop of West Missouri Marty, whom I
informed about all this and who approved of our action) that when it did
happen we responded promptly and decisively.  Part of the "not covering it
up" will be how we discuss this among ourselves:  Please, as much as
possible, openly, charitably, with the whole group unless there's some very
good reason otherwise.  (It will be helpful if we're all more or less on
the same page; and already I've seen how readily information and comments
can be misunderstood or distorted in some way, with no evil intent on
anyone's part!)

And meanwhile, if you do have questions about what has happened, or
concerns, or whatever, I will be very glad to try to respond.

It's important, too, that we respond with compassion and generosity
regarding Susie (and Abby and Ed)--but that doesn't mean bugging Susie to
rescind her decision to withdraw from the Community; she needs some space
right now, I think, and she has been moving in this direction for quite a
while.  Our best chance for continuing our valued friendship is to give her
space, and be as non-reactive and cordial, even if she strikes out angrily
toward oneself or another, as possible.

A "crisis," as they say, is a "dangerous opportunity."  A prime danger is
that the reaction to what has happened does more damage than the original
injury (as I think happened with 9/11).  Let's not go there!--but let's do
be open to whatever ways this may prove to be an opportunity--an
opportunity, maybe, for Rivendell to respond to some new facet of God's
call, and/or to recover aspects of our core.

I've been so aware of the support of our combined prayers during this
difficult time; please keep them up, and be sure I'm praying for you!  This
morning in the chapel I felt as though we were, as it were, floating on
those prayers.

Much love to all,
Virginia +

PS:  This afternoon Heidi took off for a trial placement in a new home,
with a friend who is very fond of her--a clergy spouse who is a member of a
book club which normally meets at Rivendell.  If she can behave herself
appropriately, this should be an ideal placement!
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