Hospitality Manager position

The Hermitage is looking for a hospitality manager to help oversee providing nutritious meals and clean spaces for our guests. It is a 75% time position and on-site housing may be available.

To apply send a resume and cover letter to contact@hermitagecommunity.org Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the position.

The position description is below:

Hospitality manager

The Hospitality Manager works to carry out the mission of the Hermitage, the guidance of the board of directors, and the Hermitage core community values and practices. The Hospitality Manager ensures the daily operations of the guesthouse provides a nurturing and hospitable space for our guests.

  • Oversight of kitchen/meals
    • Prepares or coordinates preparation and service of meals
    • Keeps kitchen and pantry stocked
    • Cooks vegetarian fare and is attentive to guest dietary restrictions
  • Oversight of guest spaces
    • Does laundry and cleaning of St. Joseph’s Barn and Hanby Center
    • Ensures guest rooms and bathrooms are stocked with necessary supplies
    • Maintains cleaning/hospitality supplies
    • Is attentive to facility needs. E.g. furniture or furnishings that need repair or replacement
  • Coordinates volunteers or others to assist with this work
  • Participates in Hermitage prayer life and is a hospitable presence for our guests
  • Shares in Hermitage leadership with Executive Director and Facilities manager

The Gift of Rest / by Kevin Driedger

“Therefore, my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure,” (Ps 16:9)

Some years ago, June and I volunteered at The Hermitage while David and Naomi Wenger were on sabbatical. Upon their return I approached David and asked him, “Did you receive in faith the gift of rest?”

This may seem like a curious question, and I’m sure I was attempting to be clever, but the words of this question were familiar to David. The words, adapted from Matthew 11, come from The Hermitage Affirmation, the morning prayer liturgy drafted by The Hermitage founder Gene Herr which we pray on Mondays.

Teach us, Jesus,
to hear you,
to come with the heavy loads we feel, to be yoked with you,
to be taught by you,
To learn what things really matter, and to receive in faith the gift of rest.

Today, as director of The Hermitage, I feel I am beginning to glimpse the powerful reality of the gift of rest. This season of Covid has brought many weary and exhausted people to our doors. Their presence with us and their experience of The Hermitage has taught me about receiving the gift of rest.

I confess that in the past I thought of rest as synonymous with relaxation. Rest was a pleasant, if at times, an irresponsible luxury. Rest could easily become a distraction from responsibility and productivity. Rest was good if you were tired, but too much resting was a sign of laziness.

In my quick orientation with new guests, I always point out the chapel and how we gather for morning prayer at 8am. I then add that guests are welcome to join us and are welcome to sleep as both sleep and rest are deeply important parts of retreat.

Rest is a practice and a gift.

Rest is a product of letting go of the need to shape each moment of our day; letting go of ambitions and anxieties; letting go of finding our value in our productivity; letting go of our sense of how indispensable we are.

In his life of ministry, and his training of the disciples, Jesus emphasized rest. “He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat,” (Mark 6:31).

Choosing to practice the spiritual discipline of rest can be very difficult for some of us. It certainly is for me. I find it hard to practice rest because it is difficult for me to accept that, somehow, The Hermitage could survive a day or even a week without my near constant attention. This is foolishness.

Rest can come with feelings of guilt for all the work others have to do for me to rest. Rest can cause us to question our self-worth. “What if I rest from work for a few days and nobody notices?”

Rest is intimately related to trust. Without trust rest is elusive. In order to rest we must trust that life will be okay without us being useful. We must trust the emails and texts that go unanswered while on retreat will still be there when we return and that many of their “urgent” problems will have already resolved themselves. Rest also comes when we can trust food will be available when we are hungry, and a warm bed will be available when tired. We rest in the arms of the ones we love, because we trust them.

As we see in Matthew 11, we are to come to God and give God our weariness and business, and in turn, God will give us rest. The goal of our journey is to rest in the heart of God, the most trustworthy One.

“Did you receive in faith the gift of rest?” I asked of David upon his return from sabbatical. David laughed at my question. “Have I received in faith the gift of rest?” he slowly repeated. After a pause he replied “Why yes! Yes I have.”

Greetings from the Hermitage

Dear Hermitage friends,

In this season of thanksgiving, let me first offer our heart felt thanks for all the prayers and support you have provided The Hermitage during this past year. We would not have been able to provide the loving, hospitable presence of God to so many retreatants if not for your support. Thank you and may God bless you and your family abundantly.

Now, as autumn slips into winter, the glorious leaves are falling, and the gray tree shapes emerge from the golds and reds. Jewel-like harbingers of the dark and cold time. We know that Christmas is coming. Our memories of Christmas do not reflect the weather patterns in the real Bethlehem. We envision snow, winds blowing, and the cold in Michigan where the Hermitage is a sacred nest.

Every Christmas, when I intentionally prepare to write this appeal, the manger comes to my heart. I often think of Mary and Joseph in the dark winter seeking habitation for the birth of Jesus. The Hermitage is a welcome dwelling to pilgrims seeking a way and a place to pray. The dark winter is a time for seeking renewal, the Hermitage welcomes all. We cover our guests with the quilt of love, provide warm and nutritious meals, and grounded spiritual counsel. 

This year we have faced many challenges: the rising costs of completing our house built of earth and sky, the ever-shifting Covid pandemic, and staff transitions. We are asking you to, once again, please help us sustain the grace and mercy of Jesus at the Hermitage by your Christmas giving. Your help is needed in creating the beauty and safety of a place to lay their sweet heads.

We thank you, as always, for your prayerful discernment of your gift to our ministry.

You can donate online or mail your donation to The Hermitage, 11321 Dutch Settlement Rd. Three RIvers, MI 49093

Blessings of Christmas!

Mary Asmonga-Knapp
Hermitage Board president

Ash Wednesday – Venturing into our shadowy areas – by June Mears Driedger

Today is Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent.

This Lent season it might be time to venture, as Jesus did, into the shadowy areas of our lives, confident of God’s merciful light surrounding us as well as willingly accepting the support of others. Lent is not about the ostentatious fasting that Isaiah (58:1-12) scoffed at, but a time to open ourselves to more light by lifting the lamp a little higher, by being God’s light to others and receiving it from them. It’s time to learn something new about God and move outwards to do something with it.

Lent might also be a time for us to move inwards with trust, to allow God to show us more of our own need and do something about that. As we live with the memory of the light and the hope of the Easter light to come, may the shadows we encounter become for us places of healing, wisdom and hope as well as fuel for the flame of light that we pass on to others. As light-bearers, let us be for others as merciful, gracious, and loving as God has been to us. God has taken the risk of sending the light of the Word into the chaos and terror of the world, and the darkness has not overcome it. God trusts us to keep ourselves faithful and transparent carriers of that light for the world. As the saying goes, “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

During this Lent season, let each of us carry God’s light into the shadows of our own lives, of our families, of our communities, and of the world.

Lent discipline of transformation – by June Mears Dreidger

Thirty years ago my first spiritual director, a Catholic lay woman, asked me: “What are your disciplines for Lent?” 

“Oh, I think I’m gonna give up watching ‘Star Trek’,” I told her.  “I watch it every Monday evening with my roommates. It’s kinda a ritual for us but I think it will be good for me to give it up.”

She studied me for a several seconds then sharply responded: “If you do that you will miss the whole purpose of Lent.  You will end up with more pride–you will be proud of yourself rather than seeking transformation.”

I was shocked at her response.  I was shocked by her rebuke as she was a gentle, humorous woman.  I also was shocked by her statement about Lent–I thought the whole purpose of Lent was to give something up.  I’d always heard about people giving up chocolate for Lent or red meat or television watching, so I figured I was on the right track with the whole Lent thing. Lent was a new concept for me.  In the church tradition I grew up in we never talked about Lent. We talked about Good Friday and of course, we celebrated Easter, but never Ash Wednesday or Lent, or even a period of preparation for Easter, the grandest day of the year.

The word “Lent” comes from Old English, meaning “spring” or “lengthen” as in the lengthening of the days.  This is not the image of a spring of pleasant warmth but an image of change–of transformation, of conversion.  In the lengthening brightness from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday–our Lenten spring–we are called to offer our brokenness to God. In offering our own brokenness we can then offer the world’s brokenness to God.  

Lent spring is 40 days (excluding Sundays), echoing the 40 days of temptation Jesus experienced.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week.  During these weeks before Easter, the church enters into a time of reflection, repentance, prayer and fasting, and renewal. Early in the history of the Christian church, new converts were baptized on the Saturday just before Easter Sunday.  Prior to baptism, these new converts participated in an intensive spiritual formation which included instruction, mentoring, practice in spiritual disciplines, and the development of the disciplines or habits of service, justice, charity and witness.  Also at this time, previously baptized persons reflected deeply on their own conversion and ongoing transformation.  At the Saturday Easter vigil people renewed their baptismal commitments along with the new converts who were baptized for the first time. Everyone together participated in a festive communion celebration to welcome the arrival of Easter.

As Lent begins again, I ask myself these same questions: what in me needs transforming?  What transforming does God wish to do in me?  This year, I am praying for an open heart to trust God more deeply, to believe that God is all I need.  It is essential for me to open my heart to ask deeper questions of God and of the world around me and to keep my heart open to live into God’s answers.

            What are your disciplines for Lent?

60 Second Prayers

The call of God is that this be a house of prayer.

This line from the Hermitage Affirmation morning prayer has become increasingly formative for my (Kevin) time at The Hermitage. It is both a reminder of what The Hermitage is to be about offering a welcoming place of prayer, and a reminder of my own place within The Hermitage. To tend a house of prayer, I must be about the work of prayer. 

This physically disconnected time of Covid has us rethinking place and presence, and what a house of prayer might look like. Our places of worship and business are often online. Our family gatherings are online. Our retreats are online. And so how might The Hermitage be a house of prayer online?

One way we are attempting to do that is to offer online prayer-filled experiences. One new endeavor is sharing videos of “60 second prayers”. 60 seconds is not long, but it is long enough to stop what you are doing, and give your attention to God. It is long enough for a few deep breaths and an Amen. Our days are filled with many 60 second moments, so why not set aside some of those for prayer.

Each Monday and Thursday we share these prayers on our various social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We hope you will take a minute to pray with us. 

Here are some earlier prayers.

My Prayer Mat – by Kevin Driedger

I was in the kitchen the other morning preparing lunch for a guest and myself and in that space I encountered a moment of recognition and connection. At a pause in the work I found myself moving to stand on the mat by the sink and with my back to the sink I look out the window and pray. This has become a regular practice for me. While I am waiting for water to boil or onions to saute my feet often end up on the cushioned mat and I pray.

My prayers are the prayers that come to me throughout my day. They are simple two-line breath prayers that I slowly repeat. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, 
have mercy on me a sinner.

O God, come to my assistance,
make haste to help me.

Give me ears to hear the heavenly voice
and courage to answer the call.

Open the door of my heart,
that I might receive you this day.

That specific morning the recognition dawned on me – “Oh, this is my prayer mat.” 

I know that the use of a prayer mat is common in many traditions but I had given little thought to their use, or that I might be using one. With this recognition I now have an inkling of the experience of the prayer mat as a site of devotion and meeting with God. It demarcates a space that is a private temple where we go to talk with God. As a place where we put our feet it speaks to me being grounded and still. As someone who is nurtured by Benedictine spirituality my prayer mat in the kitchen speaks to me of the connection of work and prayer.

After our meal was complete, I stood on the same mat, this time turned around to face the dirty dishes and like Brother Lawrence I continued my ongoing little conversations with God.

Practice Hope-Practice Resurrection – by June Mears Driedger

yellow flower

In the poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” farmer, poet, Jesus-follower Wendell Berry writes: “…every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world …Love someone who does not deserve it …Practice resurrection,” he concludes.

Berry challenges us to respond anew to the challenges of our lives—to the challenges of the pandemic—to recognize that our faith makes claims on us and invites us to understand the world and our lives in ways very different than the culture around us.

We know all too well the practice of crucifixion. We are living in a kind of crucifixion. We see it daily in the news, social media, and in a culture that advocates, “Me first.” So, how can we practice resurrection? We can think of new ways to bring the power of Easter to this world—to embody this power daily. We must become conduits of God’s love and energy. We are to be everyday reminders to people that sickness and death—in all its forms—is not the final word. Rather, to remember each day that we are called to life, to love, and to each day “begin again.” We are called to love God and to love others. Isn’t this what we have experienced: the love of God who doesn’t insist that we deserve this love, doesn’t demand that we get everything right, doesn’t demand us to overcome our fears and anxieties, and doesn’t require us to be cleaned up and shiny for Easter morning?

We return each day to the practice of hope, the practice of resurrection. To remember “that is in God in whom we live and move and have our being,” (Acts 17:20). Continue returning to hope, returning to resurrection until our very beings are united with God.

Building update

We have had a whirlwind of weeks working on the new House Built of Sky at The Hermitage. From soggy spring footings in March to hot dry stuffing days in June and hotter days for framing in July, the building is now being readied for roof construction. 

Over the two weeks of wall stuffing (June 9-20) we hosted two groups of volunteers, nine Guiding Light men, working two days, and 11 *cino Staff, along with 28 individuals. Some came for multiple days, and some for a single day, so we numbered 44 people stuffing the walls, giving 70 days of work. We were aiming to have 50 folks here for this project and we are so grateful for the people who worked so hard on each of the days. We were led by Thomas Hirsch of Bungalow Builders in  Benzonia, Michigan. Thomas’ gentle spirit, never-quit energy, encouraging talks and jokes just at the right time in the work day, kept the teams moving every day toward completion. What initially looked like a daunting task, became lighter work when shared by the assembled teams.  

We began each day with a “Builders Circle” sharing our favorite stretches to get our bodies ready for the work day. Each group was invited to write blessings for the house and its future occupants on the framing. Several blessings are now hidden in the walls. The blessing for this house, introduced at the groundbreaking last August, was read to the assembled workers. Our prayer is that this be a formational blessing for all who work on this project and who one day come to live in this House Built of Sky. The blessing is by John O’Donohue from his book, Eternal Echoes.

“Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing.
May you succumb to the danger of growth.
May you live in the neighborhood of wonder.
May you belong to love with the wildness of dance.
May you know that you are ever-embraced in the kind circle of God.”

Our hearty thanks goes to: Dan Truesdale, Margaret Wenger, Greg Lehman, Jay Budde, Joe Kreider, Maristela Zell, the Guiding Light group, Mary Catherine McDonald, Chuck Pieri, Linda Pieri, Karry Hostetler, Lisa Hostetler, the*cino group, Jeff Miller, Tim Lind, Janna Hunter-Bowman, Addie Hunter-Bowman, Nicole Bauman, Kristi Holmstrom, Dennis Gable, Ken Srdjak, Deanna Risser, Mary Asmonga-Knapp, Willard Fenton-Miller, Biff Weidman, Margie Pfeil, Jane Stoltzfus-Buller. David & Naomi Wenger worked alongside Thomas each day and we were served hearty meals by Ursula Hess, Kevin Driedger, Joel Hogan, Patty Hogan, and Verna Troyer. 

To see a photo essay of the house work so far.