Sitting Still in ElderSpirit Community

by Anne Leibig

In 2011 I moved 35 miles from a small farm to Abingdon, Virginia, USA, a town of 8,000 people in the Appalachian Mountains. I moved to become a member of ElderSpirit Community. I previously described the creation of this community in my essay "ElderSpirit Community: A community of Mutual Support and Late Life Spirituality" in Community Psychotherapy and Life Focus, edited by Brian O'Neill, 2009. In closing my chapter I wrote:

“In these reflections I have told part of my story, commented on risks of community building and presented tools to balance the risks as I experienced them through the lens of Gestalt Therapy. I come to Gestalt Therapy from a Masters in Social Work with emphasis on community development. My history as a community hungry person has been tempered by Gestalt Therapy and for a time I resisted the “We” of community to strengthen my “I”.

Erv Polster, a gifted psychologist (Uncommon Ground (2006) Phoenix, Arizona;Zeig, Tucker, Theisen) has traced from Freud the contribution that has grown into psychotherapy. He explores the elements that may keep therapist from creating community and some ways of employing therapeutic vehicles to create community. He does encourage expanding “one to one” to community. (p.234)”

I have expanded from “one to one” to “community”. Now, I am creating my spiritual path. The community has stated its mission as: To be a participatory community of mutual support in which all spiritual paths are respected and encouraged.
At 71 years old I am taking time for spiritual practices. One of my spiritual practices is reading and one is sitting still on the sun porch.

Recently in reading about Teresa of Avila and Martin Buber I have found two quotes that encourage me.

"Contemplation is passive. It is a state of grace that descends when the practitioner of prayer has carved out a space inside herself through the intentional cultivation of stillness."
(Teresa of Avila, “The Book of My Life”, translated by Mirabai Starr, 2007, New Seed, Boston & London p.XXVII)

"It can, however, also come about, if I have both will and grace, that in considering the tree I become bound up in relation to it.”

(“I and Thou”, Buber, translated by Ronald Gregor Smith, 1958, Scribner, page 23)



Sitting on the sun porch,
In my prayer chair, cross-legged.
I see leaves falling.
I have a good view
Of the parting of the leaves,
From the walnut trees.
The same each day,
Changing with the parting of the leaves.
I see the world out there, Still, gray.
I am in here. I sit still,
Having will and hoping for grace.

Looking the distance,
Blue Gray Mountain
Darker near hill,
Faded green field,
My yard, Leaf covered now.
Inside I see The wilted violet
Needing my watering.
Sitting cross legged,
The gray sky greets me,
And the bare branched trees.
I greet the sky, the trees,
The distant mountain, the near window reflection,
On the sun porch.

(courtesy of INNER SENSE –A Journal of Spiritual Life,  Summer 2012, Volume 3, Number 1, Brian O’Neil Editor, Ravenwood Press, Australia - http://innersense.illawarragestalt.org/)

This is the official website of ElderSpirit Community at Trailview. We welcome all, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, elderliness, or national origin.


ElderSpirit Community is entirely smoke-free, including the grounds.