From the 2009 Members Muse,
The Presidents Letter to The Membership
In the past 17 years, a lot has been written about what makes Four Quarters what it is, from many different perspectives and from many different angles. Much has been said about various improvements and enrichments, beginning with running water in the Farmhouse kitchen, and 10 years later a commercial kitchen license in the camp… from portasans to flush toilets and a public water supply permit… Odd, I hadn’t realized how many of those improvements involve plumbing!
It hasn’t all been about plumbing. We’ve grown from one overburdened desktop computer to an office network that many businesses would envy. The Farmhouse itself has seen a fair amount of cosmetic and structural surgery, from having the woodstove and chimney relocated from the east wall to the buildings center (1996), to having its basement excavated and lowered , allowing it to become that enviable office space (1998). Part of the porch was enclosed to expand the kitchen (and its plumbing), and then there’s the addition for the winery (2002), the machine shop (2008), the Loft… the camp kitchen, the Dormitory (2009), the shower buildings (2005-08), the roads, the storage shed, the stage, the fire circle… the scenery is very different now than it was in 1995. One might argue that it hardly seems like the same place!
But truly, how could it be?
Without growth, there is no life. No continuation. No Seventh Generation. And so we grow, and change, and mature. We try new things, and some of those things work out really well, like the plumbing. (Yes, I’m quite fond of plumbing. Just try living without it for a few days!) Other new things don’t work out so well, and we have to leave them behind us as we go on to yet more new things. There are always new things, right? Except… there’s nothing new under the sun. But then, everything old is new again!
It’s all about cycles. Seasons. The Wheel of the Year. Or Years, as the case may be. Orbits. Which in our solar system are elliptical. Simply put, sometimes we’re closer and sometimes we’re farther away from what we’re orbiting. Maybe it’s about the Sun, or maybe it’s about the Moon, depending on your spiritual path.
Our Constitution defines Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary as “a group of people who have come together in their individual realizations of spirit to combine their strength and abilities towards the common goal of fostering Earth Spirited Religion.” Further, “we also exist as an Interfaith Church Camp, making the land available for the spiritual needs of those who come here.” And “Our focus is the Stewardship of this Land and the Stone Circle being raised upon it, held as a place of safety and respect for all Earth Religions and all people of Spirit; a sanctuary for individuals to explore their spiritual relationship with themselves.”
That’s a huge endeavor, of nearly unimaginable scope. Yet it’s our stated purpose. It’s the foundation that Four Quarters is built upon, and for. As long as we agree on these core ideals, our greatest differences will become our greatest strengths. I’ve seen what this Membership can do in the face of adversity… and Adversity, writ large. I have faith in the Stones, and the Land, and their ability to draw us all together in purpose.
For 15 years, you have chosen to make Four Quarters your spiritual home, and you have shared that with your children. Some of you have seen your grandchildren passed into the Circle through the Mother Stone. I’ve read requests for Church Membership that are so expressive they’ve made me cry. Every Member of Four Quarters has traveled here on their own path, for their own reasons, yet the most often repeated reason for making a spiritual commitment to Four Quarters is the Community, a feeling of belonging, of homecoming… of Sanctuary.
This, then, is my personal goal my work with the Church in the coming year… a refreshed focus on the intent and values as stated in our Constitution, with a renewed perspective that we are a Church that has business concerns, rather than a business which happens to include Church functions. The purposes stated in our founding documents will continue to be my guidebook and roadmap, and I hope too, for the Board of Directors,as we walk this road together.
A place for all paths.