Not long after I first set foot on the Feathered Pipe Ranch nine years ago – and fell dizzy-weak-in-the-knees in love with the place and the retreat experience – I started to dream of what seemed nearly impossible. Of an over-busy life somehow rearranged to allow for some extended time at the Ranch in the summer – not only for the divine retreat with Erich Schiffmann and dozens of my now-closest friends, but for some time to simply BE there. To soak up the wisdom and lessons of the place without a schedule, to get to know the remarkable staff even better, to meditate silently for hours on end with those intelligent and wise mountains.
Two jobs, about 78 haircuts, a thousand laundry loads, more than a few heartbreaks, a million joyful moments, plenty of missteps, a billion little prayers, some ample divine providence, a little dumb luck, a few frequent flyer miles, and 3280 days and nights later? The dream comes true.
Life so rarely happens in the smooth, linear way that our glossy brochures imagine. But life does work.
But no joke, I had the thrill and privilege of spending a couple of weeks at the front end of the summer season at the Ranch last month. I woke up each morning pinching myself – to double check that I wasn’t still just dreaming of doing this. I staggered around the first few days, in a state of knee-buckling gratitude, that it was summer and I was in Montana and I was at The Ranch.
There was eye-opening perspective on just how very much it takes to keep it running smoothly (and how lovingly and hard the good-humored staff works!). I came home with scores of fresh lessons from the Ranch, but for now I’ll share just this one: the land is more wise and willful than I knew.
Its wisdom and its willfulness offer guidance that is unmistakable in its clarity. Any attempt to end run that guidance or resist the natural cadence of the place and you’re guaranteed to trip right over your shoelaces. But align with the Ranch’s guidance? You are golden.
The Ranch’s Will Be Done. Amen.
The Ranch’s masterful courtship of its staff and guests is seductive. And relentless. If I was giddy in love with the Ranch before – from ‘only’ attending workshops – spending time on a hybrid personal retreat cemented the romance for life. If there was such a thing as getting married to a place, I’d be hunting down a preacher for the ceremony about now.
The Ranch is, simply put, as exquisite as ever. It is beautiful and it is strong. I’ve not had the decades of experience watching the Ranch morph and transform that many other of the amazing stewards of Feathered Pipe have, but after nearly a decade of visiting here every summer, I stand in reverence of its steadiness and reliable beauty. How tender and soothing it is for the heart. How comforting it is to a shattered nervous system, no matter the source or seriousness of the that which shattered.
The Ranch has got your back.
Faces and topography have changed, but what's pure and powerful about Feathered Pipe is changeless. This place is a living miracle.
If you’ve already been to the Ranch this summer, much of this is old news to you. If you haven’t been there yet – may I politely ask – what are you waiting for?
I’m heading off momentarily for the annual Schiffmann Freedom Style Yoga love-fest. I’ll see more than a few of you there – glory hallelujah. But if I won’t see you this go-round, and if you haven’t already found your way here to the end of Bear Creek Road, just off of Montana’s Highway 12 – the place where life come true, where so much is regenerated in the heart, where so much lasting love is exchanged and remembered? My earnest prayer is that you give yourself the gift of the Feathered Pipe this most exceptional summer.