Giving Thanks

Like most of you, those of us here at the Cedar Water Healing Lodge (CWHL) have been talking about how thankful we are for all the love and support we  have received over the past 5+ years. That’s right … the CWHL has been around for over 5 years! It seems hard to believe that we have been located in Milford for that length of time!

Prior to me moving my practice to Milford, Donna and I would talk about wanting to create a community of people dedicated to helping each other. A community where all people are welcomed, supported, nurtured and encouraged to walk their own life’s path. Where people could come together to celebrate their highs and lows in life, and all that the Creator has created. A place for people to come when they have no other safe place to go; where their only responsibility is to protect and heal themselves, and to find their way through the darkness in their life and back to the light. We wanted to provide a place where people could come and celebrate life, death, and everything in between! A place where classes could be taught and helpful information could be shared. A place where peaceful solitude, meditation and healing could take place … as an individual, with a group or in ceremony. A place without judgment, where all are accepted, honored and heard.

Today that place is the Cedar Water Healing Lodge!

We have had a lot of support along the way. Ken and Laurel were mainstays in helping us get the Lodge off the ground. Besides being our firekeeper, Ken would bring his tractor from Dryden to Milford several times a year to help clear areas for the dromenon, the Arbor, and the community garden. Many tree cutting days were spent at his place, with him supplying the needed tools and gas to make it all happen for the Lodge. Laurel donated many endless hours at the Lodge trying to get me organized, handling the phones, advertising, and doing whatever was needed to keep us going. Laurel always picked up and filled in wherever we were falling short … always behind the scenes being our anchor, support and coach.

Toni and Steve were huge supports to the Lodge. Toni shared the vision Donna and I carried, and was to become a partner with us in this endeavor. Toni never missed an event at the Lodge … whether it was tree cutting, building a new Sweat Lodge, or a class. She and Steve provided the Lodge with many needed tools … like a riding lawn mower and other, smaller power tools. When she became ill, she continued to lend a hand at the Lodge … bringing her granddaughter to rebuilds, and introducing her friends to the Lodge. She will forever be a part of the Lodge, and an inspiration to all of us who had the opportunity and pleasure to know her.

Over the past few years others have stepped up. Carol and Dieder have been instrumental in lending a hand wherever necessary. They have spent hours of their time cutting and splitting wood, collecting Grands, picking sage and birch bark, making dream catchers, medicine pouches, and tobacco bags, as well as purchasing the leather goods needed to make the majority of the crafts you see at the Lodge. Their support has been amazing!

Cherie has been there as well. Owning and running her own business, Cherie has donated endless hours helping us prepare for the Wisdom Keepers’ Weekend last year, and made the purchase of two tipis possible. Participating in many of the activities in and around the Lodge, today Cherie is learning and preparing to become a fire keeper and developing her own deeply spiritual connection to the Creator and all of nature.

Bud and Michelle have dedicated many long and labor filled hours at the Lodge. Bud built our beautiful Arbor last year, and has spent endless hours taking care of our tipi, clearing gutters, and taking care of whatever needs to be done at any given moment. He has been the person helping me cut saplings for each new Sweat Lodge, cutting up fallen trees and moving the wood. Michelle is our fire keeper, housekeeper, organizer, and keeper of Facebook. She listens as I read to her each new blog I write before I post it … to make sure it makes sense and says what I am trying to say. She was tireless in her efforts to support last year’s Wisdom Keepers’ Weekend, as was her husband, Bud. Without them there would not have been a Weekend! She took care of drummers and singers, and all of the volunteers that weekend. She has been that gentle force behind me, picking up where I leave off and reminding me of what still needs to be done.

Tom and Wes have been with us since the beginning. Tom works tirelessly from dawn to dusk each time he comes here from Ohio. He takes care of the Arbor and all of the outside work whenever he is in town. When not working outside, he is taking care of all the many, little repairs required to keep the inside of the Lodge working and maintained.

Donna and I met Wes many years prior to CWHL. Wes, along with Arthur, was a teacher and mentor to Donna and me, and was Arthur’s fire keeper. Today Wes is preparing to step into the position of conductor. While many life events managed to keep Wes from being consistently active at the Lodge, he has always been an influence and presence in what we do. He, along with many of his friends, has dedicated many, many hours in keeping the Lodge maintained and functional.

So many others have also lent a hand in making various events happen. Each year Kristy has stepped forward and helped build and plant our community garden. Gretchen, Julie and Janet put forth so much time and effort in helping make last year’s Wisdom Keepers’ Weekend a success. Joleen, working around her own work schedule and taking time off to insure her own ability to help out at last year’s event. Rachelle, Joe and Dawn making themselves available for whatever tasks need undertaking. The list of helpers is long, and to mention everyone who has participated is not possible. But we are more than thankful to each and every person who has come to CWHL and offered their time and energy to this very important cause!

Last year’s Wisdom Keepers’ Weekend was a huge success. Financially, however, we were unable to cover our costs. We knew that the first year of such an event would be more costly than subsequent years, with the building of the Arbor, the Memorial Garden, pathways, etc. We thought this year’s event would probably break even, and next year’s event would earn us a profit that would be applied to the cost of running the Lodge. Unfortunately, this year’s event had to be canceled due to concerns for the safety and well-being of those attending the event and our volunteers.

Being forced to cancel this year’s event has also forced us to rethink our ability to continue running the Lodge and its offerings. Most of the events offered through the Lodge are supported through donations (e.g., Sweat Lodge Ceremonies, Women’s Full Moon/Cedar Ceremony, meditation, drumming circle, adopting families). Our current level of donations will not support the continuation of these programs and events.

For these past 5+ years, Donna and I have poured our heart and soul into making the Lodge what it is, and in supporting it from our own pockets, at an average monthly cost of $2,400. At the beginning of this calendar year, I made the decision to look at the idea of closing the Lodge if our donations were not meeting our expenses … and they are not. So the decision to close the Lodge by the end of April, 2014, has been made.

I will continue my practice, and we are looking at how we might be able to continue the ceremonies, classes, and other currently available programs. However, the Milford location will be closed … unless some unforeseen event happens that makes it possible for us to remain open.

This has been a hard decision for Donna and I to make … but a necessary one. As we move towards the month of April, we will keep you posted on any changes to our decisions as they come up.

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