Monday, September 30, 2013

Faith's Lodge

Faith's Lodge

For the last year and a half I have been attending a support group once a month (or at least as often as I remember to go) that has been wonderful.  The group is run by a woman named Dawn who runs Nickolas' Gift, a foundation in honor of her son who would be 17 years old today.  She also lost her son to Potter's Syndrome.

The group is filled with wonderful, loving, caring, and heartbroken individuals who have each lost a baby or infant for various reasons.  Each has their own story, yet we are all traveling very much the same journey.

This weekend Nickolas' Gift took us all to a place I've had my eye on for a long time: Faith's Lodge.  This is a beautiful property who's sole purpose is to provide a safe haven for families who have lost a child or are raising a child with special needs and various disorders.  It's a place for families to come relax and reflect on the journey they are on, no matter what part of the journey they are currently experiencing.

Faith's Lodge is nestled near Webster Wisconsin. There is a small quiet pond with canoes and paddle boats. It is surrounded by the beauty that Earth has provided.  As you walk around outside you notice markers signaling that someone had donated that tree, bench, brick or plant in honor of the loved one they miss so dearly.

As you walk around the lodge and the property surrounding it, there are many inspirational quotes and motivating phrases nestled among the trees and adorning the walls.

Inside the lodge, in one of the many community areas there is a crafting room.  This room is designed for creating items in memory of your child and your journey.  They provide bird houses and other art supplies to let your heart and mind soar.  One of the Faith's Lodge traditions is a Heart Rock Ritual.  They find stones shaped like a heart on the shore's of Lake Superior.  There is a connection between the smooth edges, the rough patches and the journey that rock has taken in correlation with the journey you are on.  

We had Evelyn paint Gabriel's Rock a pretty turquoise blue.  I painted a solid blue heart outlining the stone's shape.  Derrick did the lettering and floral design.

Gabriel Ray 12-8-11     Forever in our hearts
Derrick kept finding himself going back to the rock to add more to it. After he added leaves on the flowers, he returned to add highlights to the leaves, he finally felt it was complete enough to put at the bridge.

After it stopped raining, we walked down the path to Sophia's Bridge. As you approach you see all the beautiful colors and rocks that other's have placed there before you. It's bittersweet to see how many broken hearted parents are traveling the same journey as you, yet oddly comforting to know you really are not alone.

Derrick pointed out a spot near the bridge that he felt suited the stone we painted as a family for Gabriel. Naturally the location was somewhere a little difficult to get to especially when the ground was wet. But I took the duty of climbing down to the rotting tree stump to place the stone inside the little "cave" that would maybe protect it from the elements. There it will remain next to the few stones nearby that were placed there before ours.

Later I had attempted to create a Garden Stone with Gabriel's name. I made 3 whole hearted attempts before sliding the pan over to Derrick to do. I couldn't make it work or get it to look the way I wanted it to.  He ended up finishing it for me instead.

Inside the rooms there are journals where others have documented their stories.  There were 4 journals in our room dating as far back as 2008.  The stories were heartbreaking and ranging from stillborn infants to 17 year old airplane crash victims.  We could only browse through and read a few of them before it was too emotional to handle any longer. 

I did manage to take a few moments to write in Gabriel's story though. Hopefully someone somewhere will be as deeply touched by him as we were while reading the stories already written.

We were able to hang out, bond with the group, cry and laugh.  We were able to relax, eat, and reflect. It was inspiring to see the leaps some people took on their journey over the weekend and amazing that such a place exists that these families were able to do that. 

Here's more random photos from our retreat: 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful property, great location, great views, clean and nicely appointed lodge.

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