Sunrise Ranch

By Roshana Ariel

It’s been an intense few weeks for me here at Sunrise Ranch, a mix of laughter and tears, and several restless and blubbery nights.

I thought I was a rational, stable person. What happened?

Roshana here, with my monthly look at life in this unique spiritual community.

One thing people who have lived here a long time will tell you is that you have to get used to people leaving. We welcome and embrace our new residents and come to be friends and co-workers with these lovely people, and then, just when they’ve thoroughly filled our hearts, some of them up and leave.

Such is the case with a beautiful couple and their two amazing 10-year-old daughters. When I heard they were leaving, I just sobbed. I had imagined that I’d get to watch these talented, creative, fun-loving girls grow into charming young women and capable leaders.

A young woman who worked in our greenhouses left, too, under circumstances that felt bewildering and regrettable.

But wherever there are people, there are misunderstandings and differences of opinion and hurt feelings and other rocky dimensions among us.

That’s what we’ve been dealing with over the past few weeks as a community.

And that’s what I’ve been experiencing in my own life recently.

Creating space with another

People say it’s difficult to have a romantic relationship here on the Ranch. It’s hard to get boundaries straight and to make space for your personal life when it’s interwoven with another.

But things happen, and pretty soon you discover that you’re spending a lot of time with a particular person, and then the two of you become “such a cute couple” on the outside and an occasional tornado of emotional issues behind closed doors. At least, that’s been my experience recently.

I thought I had dealt with all of my old baggage from failed marriages and abuse and misplaced trust. I thought I had forgiven everyone and myself long ago. But this past couple of weeks, I’ve been a bundle of reopened wounds and a walking fountain of tears.

It’s good to let it all go again, I guess. I hope that’s the last time I have to face those fears of abandonment, but, as has been mentioned more than once recently, if you’re in an intimate relationship (romantic or not), you have to accept that there will be misunderstandings and differences of opinion and preference, and hurt feelings from time to time.

Just what I always wanted.

Anyway, I’m feeling much lighter, having shed those tears and faced those old fears again. And I’m feeling held and cared for in this loving and powerful community.

And that really is what I always wanted.

Our head honcho, David Karchere, mentioned during our Wednesday evening gathering that he’s not interested in Sunrise Ranch being just a loving, caring community. What good is being loving and caring if we’re failing as a business? We can’t live here, let alone thrive, if we’re not successful in managing this place, with its conference and retreat center, its farm and ranch, its publications, finance and housing departments, and the various spiritual activities and events we engage in.

With any large business, there are complex issues, both in the business itself and in the hierarchy or politics of running the business. People sometimes feel their ideas aren’t valued or their voices not heard or their gender not respected. Those are areas in which the community as a whole is working to smooth out the rough edges and explore ways to be more creative in our communications.

We’ve had a couple of community-wide discussions about masculine and feminine energies playing out in our little village and in the experiences we’ve had throughout our lives, and how those tensions and experiences have caused pain and woundedness, both individually and collectively. A great deal of healing has been evident in the community, a lot of apology and forgiveness, holding and understanding.

When we face these issues together, when we feel free to say what needs to be said, we feel a coming together, a cohesion, a loving space all around us.

As David said during that Wednesday evening gathering, “I think there is a conspiracy of kindness that’s happening here. There are those among us who value that and are offering it and finding it in each other. We’re coming together to create a culture of kindness. And it’s not on the org chart; it’s just those of us who have decided that that’s important to us. We want to not only stand for it, but we also want to live it and embody it and know it with each other.”

Well, that’s the kind of community I want to live in, and I’m grateful to be here among others who endeavor to create that kind of place together.

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