Dear Hermitage Friend,
In late August 1999 June and I moved into Nazareth, the double-wide mobile home on Hermitage property. This began a 3-month season of transition for us, and a 23-year loving relationship with The Hermitage. For most of those years we continued our relationship by coming on retreats, lots of volunteering, and my serving on the board for several years. In August 2018 we moved here again to join the staff. These past 23 years have been incredibly rich and rewarding. And June and I once again have entered time of transition as we’ve heard the call to move closer to my folks in Southern Manitoba.
In conversation with my spiritual direction trainer, a few months before starting here, the image of the inn-keeper in the parable of the Good Samaritan emerged as an identity shaping image for me. I saw him as offering hospitality to all who Christ brough to his door. A copy of the Rembrandt painting of the Samaritan dropping off the injured man at the inn has hung on the wall above my office phone during my time here. I am so grateful for a place to continually discover what this image and identity means for me. Bearing witness to the presence of Christ through our guests whether that be in silence or heartfelt conversation has been the greatest gift the Hermitage has offered me. These encounters have only strengthened my desire to share God’s hospitality and God’s rest. I look forward to discovering how this identity will find expression in our new home.
These years as director have been very rich, and very challenging. Attempting to lead the Hermitage through the season of Covid was a challenge I never could have imagined. The endless needs of our aging facilities included replacing one geothermal unit in the cold of winter, and then the other geothermal wasn’t heating properly and took many months to fully repair. Earlier this year a range, dryer, and microwave stopped working and needed to be replaced within two months. And I continue to keep an eye on the Hanby Center roof which we’ve put off replacing for a couple years. The list could go on.
Throughout my 23 years with The Hermitage, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support shown to the Hermitage. I’ve learned that it is the very presence of guests that most sustains this place. The presence of guests and staff turn this lovely spot in the woods into a place of encounter with God. I am deeply grateful for those who help share in the day-to-day work of the Hermitage, whether that be for an afternoon, or for many years. I am also continually grateful for those who have financially supported the Hermitage over its 37 years. For many years I was one of you and was always grateful to hear about the work happening here and showing my support through time, treasure and talent.
Transitions can be hard on people, and on an organization. There will be rough spots and times of uncertainty for the Biermas as they assume leadership. I can say with complete confidence, however, that the support of the broader Hermitage community will continue and will sustain them and this place for many years to come. I invite you to support the Hermitage through this transition to continue providing a way and a place to pray for 37 more years. No gift is too small.
You can donate online via our PayPal page.