Letter to the Board

Letter to the Board

from Joyce Hollyday

When Lydia was discerning her call to Kirkridge, she spun a vision that included a residential community. It was captured in a poem now on the website and published in Riverwise magazine. She saw…

Beloveds who live on this land and lean into a vocation of hospitality. Sharing rhythms of work, spirituality, and play connected with the wider local community.

It was poetry as a mission statement. It was a call within a call. A handful of us, and growing, are inhabiting that vision. We are listening, sitting at the table, moving toward one another, finding the sync of rhythms, planting seeds, and slowly giving body to a common dream still punctuated with commas and question marks. We are unfolding. —Bill Wylie-Kellermann

We are grateful for the many ways the Kirkridge Board and staff have welcomed and embraced our presence here on this land. Our longings for a new opportunity to practice faith-based intentional community now have a place to set down their roots, thanks to the openness and generosity of the Board. Lydia’s dream of intergenerational community supporting the staff and the mission of Kirkridge, while sharing the rhythms and practices of our life together, is now possible.

We each come to this new experiment in communal living with previous experience. We have been members of communities that practiced different levels of intentionality, in Chicago, Detroit, Durham, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC. Most of these communities were based in inner-city neighborhoods. A number of us have visited with and learned from, communities in other countries.

We are now poised and ready to apply those things we have learned to the task of creating a more rural-based community life. By setting aside, preserving, and maintaining this land and its lodgings for more than eight decades, generations of Kirkridge Board members and staff have left us with a very special gift: a space where we, with the support of the present Board and staff, can experiment with sustainable and just ways of living alongside each other. No matter how it all comes out, we are forever indebted to you and those who have come before us. —Liam Ramsey

We are here to support the mission and work of Kirkridge. As we are enjoying the tasks of settling into the spaces in which we now live, we are also welcoming, registering, and orienting retreatants, as well as staffing the Book Nest. We have made several runs to pick up and return retreat leaders to the Philadelphia train station and the Newark airport. We are exploring sustainable energy options and tending the community garden.

We have taken responsibility for the Hermitage as a hospitality space for short- and longer-term visits by family members and friends of Kirkridge (and someday, we hope, artists- or writers-in-residence). We have created three apartments there, are cleaning and decorating, setting up a chapel and a library/massage studio, and enjoying a community room now equipped with a large round dining room table, piano, and corner for reading and games.

Several of us bring experience leading retreats, and in the months ahead, at Lydia’s invitation, we will be offering gatherings ranging from “Playing and Praying with Clay” to a women’s writing retreat, justice-based ancestor work to the spiritual wisdom of Daniel Berrigan and Thich Nhat Hahn. We also see ourselves as a liaison with the local community around Kirkridge. We have helped to launch an outdoor “Wild Church” with the SYNC community, and we are looking forward to hosting events such as bonfires, singing circles, and potlucks for the “neighborhood.”

All of this (well, except for the four-hour roundtrip drives to Newark when traffic is backed up on I-80) brings us great joy! —Joyce Hollyday

As I started to imagine life in community at Kirkridge, I knew I wanted to have a big garden. We began the garden in the fall with about 150 garlic bulbs. In spring, with the help of our SYNC neighbors, we installed a fence around the garden. We added more beds over the spring months, often with the help of Kirkridge guests and volunteers. In addition to feeding and sustaining the community here at Kirkridge, we hope the garden will contribute to the kitchens for retreat meals, be a focal point of food preservation workshops, and provide a surplus to be given away to the wider community.

The transition from Detroit to Kirkridge has been a smooth one for our boys. They really love being here. I love the wonderful people they have met and will be able to meet, that come through Kirkridge. I am glad for the conversations they will be around. The kids bring an energy to our daily life that helps keep us in the present moment and adventure into the natural world around us. I am excited to see how their life here is formed by this place and community. —Erinn Fahey

One of the dreams I’m carrying with me to Kirkridge is joining Erinn (and who-knows-who-else) in creating a crafting area near the Farmhouse. Erinn, a carver and woodworker, has already created a great workshop. I’ve been a potter for more than 20 years and am looking forward to creating a clay studio space. We value re-claiming, honoring, and practicing our art and crafts as expressions of creativity, beauty, joy, and our commitment to living a simple life.

Perhaps one day there will be Kirkridge retreats and workshops that will grow out of these beginnings. Earth/Clay, Water, Fire, Wood, and Knife all offer ways to reflect on our lives, the natural world, and this moment in the living-and-dying of the world. Maybe one day there will be artist residencies at Kirkridge. We want to begin simply by creating space for each of us to practice our craft on the land at Kirkridge. The Farmhouse area offers a beautiful setting. We’re excited to see what organically grows out of our practice, imagination, and joy. —Denise Griebler

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