Dear Feathered Pipe Friends,
“Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.”
For many of you coming to the Ranch this season, your trip here may mark your inaugural foray ‘out into the big world’ after more than a year of quarantine, lockdown, isolation, and intense worries about health and safety. We are thankful for the many messages of support for and understanding about the health and safety protocols we are taking. Thanks, too, for bearing with us as we’ve had to frequently adjust our rules and procedure to adapt to quickly-shifting public health guidance.
Beyond the administrative necessity of consent forms and the practicalities of public health considerations? There’s a need, too, to acknowledge the impact of all of this on our hearts, bodies and minds. Stepping into the uncharted terrain of gathering in groups creates a practical necessity for consciously supersizing patience and kindness – toward our sometimes-jittery selves as well as toward one other.
It’s possible that your travel to the Ranch this summer may mark the first time in over a year that you’ve been on a plane, walked among groups of strangers at airports, and stepped outside your lockdown bubble. Moreover, once you arrive, some things will look different to those of you who have been here before as we embrace the most sensible safety measures dictated by health experts and common sense. Many teachers will be holding classes outdoors (on our gorgeous new Nature Deck!) instead of inside the iconic Main Lodge on days when the weather is cooperating. All these modifications could be disquieting for those who find comfort in the familiar. But we are confident that some of the changes will make you appreciate the Ranch (and our recent upgrades) like never before!
Coming together in community
Re-learning to be together in community safely is an assignment for all of us in the summer of 2021. And it is one that we are confident we can accomplish if you’re willing to join us in embracing two potent intentions:
Compassion Toward Self. When you get to the Ranch, please remember that if you are feeling anxious about re-entry into a group setting that the healthiest thing to do is to acknowledge and tend to your feelings and experience. The spaciousness of the Ranch means you can always step away for a time to let your nervous system settle and reset. If a setting or situation feels like ‘too much’ for you, give yourself permission to gravitate to the setting, people, and situations that nourish you most. In short? Take care of yourself.
Patience with Others. It is useful to remind yourself that everyone — your fellow retreat-goers and the staff at the Ranch — is finding their way, the best way they can, to adapt to changed conditions and a novel reality. Giving others a little wider berth and staying good-natured and composed as we all adapt to these changes? Those can be brave, powerful, and loving acts. We get the opportunity to ‘walk our talk’ when it comes to compassion – “the keen awareness,” as Thomas Merton described it, “of the interdependence of all things.” In short? Stay kind.
After a year-and-counting of extraordinary stresses, loss, and previously unthinkable challenges, it means the world that you are choosing to spend some of your summer at the Feathered Pipe. To be sure, some things may look and feel a bit different this summer — and there may be greater demand for extra patience, ample good humor, and compassion — but be assured that the heart and essence of the Ranch remains intact and beating stronger than ever. We are eager to welcome you back to your Montana home away from home.
With love and kindness,
Feathered Pipe Foundation, board president