Rita's Story

I first visited the farm in mid-October with my friend Jo-Ann McVey, who had been there many times in her past because her uncle was Father Raymond McVey who started the Acres and also St Francis Farm many years ago. First Jo-Ann took me to the Acres, taking me inside the chapel there, and walking around the grounds. We then took the mile walk through the woods to visit St. Francis Farm and meet the Hoyts. Jo-Ann had not been to the farm in very many years so we spent over an hour visiting, Jo-Ann getting updated on all the changes that had occurred since her uncle had passed. The Hoyts told us the story of how they came by the farm and what they do.
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I asked if they had silent meetings on Sundays. They said they worship every day, but Sunday worship is an hour long. They were very happy to have me share their Sunday morning walk and prayer/ worship/ meditation time.  

 I had recently visited a few Quaker meetings, and when I first found out the Hoyts were Quakers I was very happy, as I've been studying a bit about these folk who have been involved in social activism and doing good for others, often silently and humbly, since the 1700's.  I like their openness to allowing others to find God in their own way. Personally I value all religions, not holding to any one. While the Hoyts follow Christianity, they also read and respect other religious traditions, seeing the common ground between them and their Christian faith. 

 It was early November when I began coming by on Sunday mornings to sit in worship (as they call it). We sit in silence for one hour and I love it! We may read to ourselves but for me it is the sitting together in the silence that I find so supportive. I have been meditating for over 40 years and I relish this time with those who also believe in listening within and being present for truth to reveal itself. Sometimes after, Lorraine reads something from the Bible that often feels supportive to the times we are living. We then visit. Recently they gave me an auto-harp. I don't read music but it is a very easy instrument to play and I love being able to pluck out the chords while learning an old Carter family tune.

 Arriving on Sunday morning, we first usually go for a mile walk, down the road if the snow is too deep, otherwise through the woods that lead to the creek. It feels like a nature sanctuary, with brooks, streams, a pond, trails and trees of all kinds on 180 acres of land. I've been told I am welcome to come walk the land anytime. 

 Jo-Ann and I visited on a Saturday a while back and I recently went again on a Monday. We were shown the toys that they make for the refugee children in Syracuse. Because these children come to our country with very little, they need to have some things to call their own and enjoy. Joanna showed us how to sew the body of the little dolls that are then given to the children. Nothing will make you feel better about your life than when you are doing something to help make another's life better. On that Monday visit, I came to sew the dolls and to talk politics. These are very trying and difficult times our country is going through. It feels good to discuss the world's events with informed and knowledgeable folks. I feel grateful to have their friendship right now, as like minds and hearts are stronger together. I benefit greatly by listening to their view on the world and how we try to understand and use our time and skills to benefit others. 

 The Hoyts offered to loan me books from their extensive library. Since I've been interested in social activism, and trying to understand what's happening in society, they lent me The Shelter of Each Other by Mary Pipher. I already loved Mary Pipher and saw her at Manlius Pebble Hill school, back in the mid 1990's. They also lent me Desmond Tutu's book Made for Goodness. I highly recommend both books for understanding our culture, the injustices we meet and how to stay rooted to what is needed and true. So much more to say about the farm, and what they do to extend themselves to people in the community. I want to touch on Zachary's talent as a builder of musical instruments, guitars, banjos, violins, cellos, mandolins and probably others I don't know of. Joanna is the wordsmith and has written a historical novel. 

So don't pass up the chance to come visit these folks and see what they do here. And if you ever get the invite to have lunch--home cooking, fresh bread.....do it! This is a wholesome place; goodness abounds here; so do creativity, kindness, music and laughter.  I look forward to warmer months where I can participate in more outdoors activities.... and learning.....so much to learn here on St. Francis Farm.

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