I just sent out this retreat update letter...
Like much of the country, we experienced a severe drought this summer. The cornfields around us seemed to suffer the worst, but our crops also required continual watering, fruits and vegetables were fewer and smaller (though sometimes noticeably sweeter), and even the trees struggled. We also saw fewer retreat guests this year. Staffing and personal difficulties caused some of our usual visitors to stay home this summer, so they were spared the sight of our browning grass and drooping leaves.
But God cared for us during this dry season. Last winter Heather felt inspired to move away from the heavy commercial gardening she had been doing for the farm and develop a smaller community garden instead. Everything she grew was then given away to neighbors and friends here (and also some to friends in Chicago). A smaller garden patch turned out to be much, much better when the rain stopped coming. And some out-of-town friends ended up spending much of the summer here, giving Heather lots of help. The harvest was good. And then, at the end of the season, the gratitude of our community was expressed by generous donations for a rototiller that Heather had been dreaming about. So her work will be a little easier next summer (and hopefully graced with a little more water from on high).
One of our elderly neighbors faced some new struggles this year as well. After a couple falls, he found himself in need of regular assistance. I happened to be more available than usual, so I offered to start helping with much of his daily care. With the support of many others in the community also, he's able to continue to live here at home.
This month we were glad to have a group from Su Casa Catholic Worker come for a retreat, to support their work with immigrant families in need in Chicago. And we expect to host an Emmaus Ministries retreat again this winter. We keep praying for all who have come to share with us, and for those who will come.
That God will stay close and sustain us all through the dry seasons.