Letters From Our Executive Director

Home / Blog / Letters From Our Executive Director


Listening for the Waters to Rush Free

A person wearing mittens holding snow in their hands.

“May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 Dear Friends, At the staff/volunteer luncheon, Mark (our much-loved volunteer) shows me the video on his phone of a large storm drain well-outside Cranaleith’s property line. It had been fully blocked, and he tells me the story of how he filled and removed twenty-seven contractor-grade bags of trash, old tiles, broken concrete, plastic bottles. I can’t take my eyes away from the video of the water from...

A New Journey

A number 2 0 2 4 surrounded by christmas decorations.

Dear Beloved Cranaleith Community, As we stand on the threshold of a new year, all of us at Cranaleith are filled with profound gratitude and anticipation. The journey we’ve collectively traversed in the past year has been one of both challenges and triumphs, growth, and reflection. We find ourselves humbled by the resilience and love that defines our community. As we embark on the blank canvas of the coming year, please let us share a few thoughts on the significance of this moment. The turning of the calendar is more than just a change in dates; it is an invitation...

Listening Deeply: A Profoundly Powerful Act

A red bird sitting on top of a tree branch.

Dear Friends, Parked in the cell phone lot at the Philadelphia International Airport, I listen for a call. Two of the facilitators for Cranaleith’s staff/board “racial healing initiative” weekend retreat are arriving soon from California and Missouri, and I am here to give them a ride to the center. The phone should ring at any second. In the silence of the car’s closed space, I hear the muffled sounds of jet engines, buses, cars, the laughter of four men joking with one another outside my passenger door. It is quiet in here, but my mind is noisy with anticipation and...

Listen for the Language of Wholeness

A wooden table with leaves and berries on it.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15 Dear Friends, At last month’s Harvest Festival at Cranaleith, four women from the neighborhood stand in front of the small table where we are giving away for free a few hundred of the native trees and shrubs remaining from the 2500 trees that had already been distributed as part of our partnership with the Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership initiative. Recent immigrants to Somerton, the women speak no English, only...

Listen to the Space Between

A path through the woods in autumn.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.   Dear Friends, At Cranaleith, the crickets chirp loudly in the meadow behind the historic house, in the space we are actively turning “wild,” crisscrossed by winding pathways Fred (core volunteer) has mown into the deep, tall grass. In 1897, Amos Dolbear found that the rate of the crickets’ chirping directly correlates to the ambient temperature of the air. Cold? Slow chirps. Warm? Faster. Try it for yourself. Count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, then add 40 to find the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. You will find that...

A Wellspring of Mercy

A flock of birds flying in the sky.

Dear Friends, Stepping out barefoot on the warm boards of our back deck, my younger daughter and I crane our necks to watch in amazement as hundreds of black birds, Common Grackles, fly through the trees in our woods, sliding between the branches, wings rustling, forming and reforming in synchronized groupings, swooping across the sky, settling briefly on the branches. We marvel at their silence and occasional soft chattering. My daughter tries to capture it happening on video. She wants others to see it–see what’s happening. At Cranaleith, we are preparing to celebrate Mercy Day on September 24–a day set...

If These Walls Could Talk

A horse and some other animal in the distance.

Dear Friends, “Negative space” is a term used in art to describe the space surrounding a subject–that essential and important “empty” space surrounding the positive space in a composition.I am thinking about that concept while standing with Sr. Ellen Murray in the impossibly crowded, narrow hallway of Sr. Helen David Brancato’s art studio. Ellen and I are there to preview Helen’s #BlackLivesMatter art exhibit, scheduled to be hosted at Cranaleith this September. Surrounded by the layers of Sr. Helen’s framed paintings, I listen to Helen’s quiet, soft voice as she describes the profound beauty and dignity of every person’s story...

The Deep Springs Within Us

A hand is reaching for water from the ocean.

Dear Friends, Members of the staff have been watching closely the water of the pond, worrying about several ropey, green strands of algae.Because the waterfall has been temporarily blocked, the bright orange goldfish gather around the submerged bubblers, gills flashing as they gulp for oxygen. At our staff retreat, Sr. Maria begins by reminding us of the time when Cranaleith’s natural springs were once thought crushed, lost–until those digging the pond uncovered two fresh springs–sudden, gushing geysers of water. She pauses her storytelling and invites each of us to pour water from the clear glass pitcher into the round bowl...

Where Hope Can Be Found

A yellow flower is growing out of the ground

Dear Friends, Over the Memorial Day weekend, I trip on the broken sidewalk and fall, face-forward, on the concrete.I hear a woman in the distance gasp, “Are you alright?”.My husband kneels beside me in the street.I sit up dizzily and feel with my tongue the jagged edges of four, broken, front teeth.Bart and I had been walking in the small college-town of Lawrence, KS, celebrating our 34-year wedding anniversary at the restaurant that opened the year we married.In the car on the way to the emergency room, I close my eyes and listen to Bart’s short, panicky, rapid breaths.The CT...

Be Amazed, Be in Awe

A house with trees in the background and a field.

Dear Friends, When I am at Cranaleith, I find my breath deepens, my mind quiets. Walking from my car to the office, I turn to the left so that I can reach for the soft blossoms of the wisteria spilling across the driveway. Seated at my desk, I watch the rain sliding across my window. Bernadette (Director of Programming) lets us know that the men and women of CATCH will not be working in the garden this morning. It feels as if I completely disappear into this space, into these words, into this moment. The peace of this place opens...

A Change of Mind

A bee is sitting on the flower of a plant.

Dear Friends, This past Sunday, we were supposed to install three, new queen bees into the hive boxes at the far edge of the meadow. Volunteers were standing at the ready to help, my oldest daughter agreed to provide the video documentation, Gene (our beekeeper) had the protective beekeeper suits at the ready. The weather, however, didn’t cooperate. The bees are from the warm, southern state of Georgia, and Gene said he couldn’t bear the thought of putting them in the cold wooden supers. We waited until the warm weather of Monday before installing them in their new homes. Gene...

An Evening on Non-Violence

A room with three different images of the same room.

Dear Friends, With only minutes to go before the opening reception for the Center’s program “An Evening on Non-Violence,” Angela (Director of Marketing and Development) focuses on artfully arranging clusters of grapes on the platter; Sr. Maria scrambles to find the wine bottle opener; Elizabeth (Director of Hosted Groups) samples a sliver of cheese. I run downstairs to rummage for more forks. The laughter drifts into the stairwell as someone teases Joziah (Digital Media Manager) for being a “man of mystery.” I see and welcome our exhibiting artist, Pamela Flynn, then chat with her co-presenter, Patricia Griffin. Guests arrive and...