by JoAnn Jones —
Whatever efforts we as individuals, groups, organizations, and/or a community are engaged in, we are all in need of practices and places that “bear us up”, that give us “help” or “support”, to “buoy” us up under the weight of these efforts. We need support to keep our minds from sinking or giving way, to endure the ongoing prolonged effort necessary to provide for ourselves the kind of community that sustains us, the people who live in the community, with the quality of life we need and desire.
The preservation of historical structures and spaces is important to remind us that our community has already endured. We can learn from them what is enduring and sustaining. These structures provide the perspective of continuity which we also get from the Natural world.
Morning Star Retreat Center is a place both figuratively and literally that supports Human Development and Spiritual Awakening as the name of its nonprofit organization implies. The space itself and the programs it offers helps our community to sustain itself. Located on Creek Road along the Saucon Creek and the Little Black River between Bethlehem, Hellertown, and Lower Saucon, it is in an oasis of farm and pastoral land surrounded by modern development. It is quick to get to, only one mile from I-78 and 412, yet once there one feels as though they are far away both in time and space.
The building is a converted 1830’s bank barn built of old growth Oak and Chestnut beams, stone, and glass. The gardens are designed to provide refuge for personal reflection, contemplation, and meditation. To be in the safety, balancing, tranquil environment of nature, to reconnect with our bodies and our inner strength is what sustains us to endure the ongoing stress and demands of our modern lives.
Morning Star teaches practices which allow us to deepen our capacity to just be mindful, in the moment, to return to the real, to turn inward to allow us to develop our power from within, the power to make real change possible.
JoAnn is a founding member of the Alliance.
This essay was originally published in the Alliance’s 2004 Directory of Organizations That Promote Sustainable Communities.