Ring Lake Ranch turns 50 years old this summer! Since Maggie Kahin founded it in 1966, the Ranch has welcomed people from all over the world to hike and ride Torrey Valley trails, canoe and fish in Trail and Ring Lakes, eat meals together and spend evenings in profound conversations.
Ring Lake Ranch has certainly grown over the years – the Ranch welcomed 16 guests during its first summer, while we saw more than 450 people come through the gate in 2015. We have gone from the stories of fees from one week covering the groceries of the next to a budget of almost $400,000 and an endowment to ensure the long-term health of the Ranch. But even as the Ranch has grown, it remains much the same as it has always been.
Maggie Kahin had a remarkable vision for a vital, life-giving program. The dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have helped lead the Ranch since her passing have faithfully sustained the program she founded. We have certainly grown and welcomed a larger community of people over our fifty summers, but that experience of personal renewal through connection with nature, Spirit, and other people is still just as powerful and available for all who come to Ring Lake Ranch.
We will have special meals and conversations throughout the 2016 season to celebrate our anniversary, culminating in our Anniversary and Reunion Week seminar at the end of the season. As part of that Anniversary and Reunion Week, we will host an Anniversary Party on Thursday, September 1st. The party will be open to everyone from the surrounding community, as well as guests of the Ranch. Everyone is welcome to the Anniversary Party, but if you can't attend, I hope you will join us for one of our other seminars this summer and celebrate the birthday of a very special institution.
I came across these remarks originally offered by Maggie in the Carillon in 1981 and reprinted in 1996 for the 40th anniversary of the Ranch. My hope is that you read Maggie's words and not only recognize the same experience of renewal that she envisioned in 1966, but that you find in her words the vision for our next 50 years as well.
– Andy Blackmun, Director
A Time for Renewal - Maggie Kahin
What are you seeking when you come to Ring Lake? What is renewal? Surely a time leisured yet not empty; a place from which to look back on problems, to hold them up at a distance, just as one climbs a mountain trail and enjoys a different view with each pause to rest.
Renewal often starts with disorientation, getting out from underneath, moving, stretching, breathing in a new and radically out of the ordinary environment, in an environment which invites slowing down, as does the sense of timelessness, of awesome infinitude, in the silent mountains. Somehow or somewhere in the wide openness we can seek our own centers, finding a chance to still the whirling mind and chattering tongue, to look inward, to seek to nourish the heart, or in S. Galen's words, "to reclaim the lost self."
For the heart not only has her own reasons, she has her own roots, her own landscapes. Sometimes I think we dwell in these inner worlds more than we realize. It is here we long for light to shine when we wander in darkness. It is here we desire warmth and love to dwell.
We seek a change of environment, and something more: a place to let in the light. In order to do this we need an opportunity to peel off our layers of blindness, of misconceptions, to knock down the invisible barriers we've erected over the years, which hold us captive. Is not part of my education this continuing process and the progress itself equatable with growth in the spirit?
And I think we need a sharing, caring community, a community wherein I don't have to measure up to others expectations, where I do not have to tread a party or denominational or job description line. A community where I can ask wrong questions without being judged and right questions without fear of misunderstanding. A friend once told me, "I may not understand all you say, but I promise not to misunderstand." I think that means a special promise truly to try to listen with the heart.
I hear a small voice saying, "But what are the rules, Maggie?"
"The rules, David, are 1) don't throw rocks anywhere; 2) don't enter the corral until you are called; 3) recognize the rabbits and horses are your friends; 4) try to love your neighbors, and above all 5) seek to know and love God."