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I hope you are doing well! I wanted to send an update about Butterfly Way, tell you how things have been going, and share with you our new brochure!
We set a goal for ourselves to be ready to welcome overnight guests by the end of July and we did it! Our first guest slept in “The Cottage” at the beginning of August. We also had two families stay with us for the third summer in a row.
One of our guests this year experienced the death of a close friend of theirs only a few days before they had planned to come and was asked to host the celebration of life in their backyard. They said to me, “It would have been easier in some ways to just cancel our plans but I knew we needed to get away even for one night. If we had stayed at home we would have been obsessing and stressing, but instead, now we’re calm and grounded.”
Anxiety, loss, chronic pain, financial stress, history of childhood abuse, and other varying
forms of trauma that are too complex to list.
These are the things that are weighing heavily on the people I meet.
Our support has extended beyond this place as well. People in our network are beginning to embrace the benefits of getting away to a quiet place surrounded by nature in times of stress, making it their first instinct to go to their own place of refuge and then call me. Not that I have all the answers, but they know I will understand.
It’s not that getting away solves all the problems or that running is a solution. When life is happening faster than we can process, pressing the pause button for even 24 hours, simply gives our mind, body, and Spirit a chance to calm down and regain a solid footing. This summer I have seen this approach improve outcomes but I have also seen (and experienced in the past) what happens when we lack this type of intervention.
A person contacted me recently who really needs Butterfly Way. We have had several conversations, they want to come, they know they need the time and space but life keeps happening. It’s been tough to hear their pain and see them making decisions that aren’t helping, but in the absence of anything that seems reasonable, this is what happens when trauma compounds and relief hangs in the distance like a dangling carrot.
What this person needs is some support where they live. My friend who went to their own place of refuge was encouraged to go by the people who support them at home, they also thought calling me was a good idea. With that kind of reassurance, getting away wasn’t an insurmountable mountain. People need to be reassured and encouraged to take care of themselves and that the world is not going to stop spinning if they take a few days for themselves.
That’s why we say we accept referrals from clergy, therapists, or good friends. I have known it’s very important that people have support when they go home but I didn’t realize how important that support would be from the outset. Sometimes people feel like they’re taking advantage or they don’t deserve it, other times they are so anxious they can’t formulate a plan to get here or they might not use the word trauma to describe their situation so they don’t think they “qualify”.
We all need someone to check in and ask how we’re doing and in tough times, those friends become a lifeline. How many times have you thought to yourself when listening to a friend or family member talking about their experience, I wish there was more I could do. Not to sound hokey, but maybe now there is. You could be the person who encourages them to take some time to simply pause - take a break from all the crazy and re-group.
Staying in a cabin in the woods, preparing meals outdoors, and using an outhouse isn’t for everyone but it is for someone. A 24-hour getaway can help when someone already seeks this type of refuge as a means of self-care but for someone with prolonged stress who is inclined to keep going and not stop, I recommend at least three nights.
For the fair-weather type, the best months are August, September and October. For those who can cope with a few mosquitoes and don’t mind wearing long pants and bug spray, we can welcome guests in mid-June and July. Even the diehard outdoor enthusiasts wouldn’t want to stay here in May and June. During the cooler months, we are working on a heater for The Cottage which will extend our season into November/December and April but for now, only those with winter camping experience (and gear) can stay in The Cottage during those months. The studio is open for day use from March to December when we don’t have overnight guests. All cabins are closed in January and February.
Lastly, on a personal level, I’m learning in an ever-increasing measure to trust God with Butterfly Way. I’ve had ideas about what Butterfly Way could be and have been frustrated and even disappointed that some things that have made so much sense to me (and others!) just haven’t become part of what we do here and maybe never will. It’s easy to get overly focused on what the future holds (or doesn’t) but I am reminded every time I walk toward someone who is suffering that all we really have is this present moment. All we can really do is bring our fishes and loaves as our offering, what God does with it is not up to us.
Our hope is simply that this place be a source of supportive respite for the weary sojourner. With good friends like you and perhaps a cabin in the woods with someone nearby who cares, together we can help people transform their lives.
With Love & Hope,