This was a drawing made of the hermitage site plan nearly 12 years ago by the very first group of visionaries.

This was a drawing made of the hermitage site plan nearly 12 years ago by the very first group of visionaries.

This section is a blog that details the development of the Rivendell Hermitage.

Twelve Stone drawing
Twelve years ago the vision was birthed for what is now the Rivendell Hermitage. This picture of a piece of paper holding eleven stones and some jotted notes was created 12 years ago by the very first visioning committee that was formed during the same year that the Rivendell Retreat lodge on Cates Hill was developed.

The single stone in the centre represents the sanctuary, the large rock at the top with the green stone represents a main communal building with an accessible bedroom, and the small groupings of small stones represent individual hermitages. It is amazing how this image is so similar to the current site plan although the vision was created without yet knowing the land that would be used for the Hermitage site.

When the development of the main Lodge of what is currently known as Rivendell Retreat Centre began, Kathi had a vision of Rivendell as a Retreat Centre with two locations. One site was envisioned for groups and the other for individuals, with an emphasis on silence and solitude. Shirley’s agenda for the development of Rivendell reflects the early place of the vision for the  Hermitage in the retreat centre’s overall development. Shirley’s timeline was organized like this: First Phase: 1. Prepare sketches and plans for the first site, with cost estimates and time frame; 2. Figure out all the financial, legal, and organizational aspects necessary to ensure the completion of the current development and its ongoing sustainability; 3. Select an appropriate second site. Second Phase: Cates Hill. Third Phase: Second Site.

While the construction teams were building the lodge on Cates Hill, Wolfgang showed Shirley and Kathi another piece of land, one in Cowan Point on the south end of Bowen Island that he thought appropriate for the Second Site. They were all in agreement and “lot 2448” became the chosen location of the Hermitage. Yet it was another ten years before any significant development happened to make the vision for the Rivendell Hermitage a reality.

Unfortunately, although the Lodge on Cates Hill was realized as the Second Phase of Rivendell’s development, the Cowan Point property never really got off the ground.  Kathi had two cabins renovated and furnished that were used occasionally by individual retreatants who had connections to the place or people and she gathered a small visioning committee who spent time on the new site planning Rivendell’s third phase, but that was as far as the Second Site got for the first decade.

After holding the vision for the second site for ten years and a decision to release the original Cowan Point site in favor of a different piece of land, also on Bowen’s south end, it finally became evident that the many obstacles had finally be cleared away and the third phase of the Rivendell development was about to begin. As it had been held so it was renewed—by vision. Kathi sent this letter to those whom we invited to be part of the renewed visioning group:

As I think all of you are aware, since the very early days of Rivendell I have had the vision of an additional site that would be dedicated to silence with individual cabins that are simple and nestled in nature.  The property called the Hermitage down by Seymour Bay was acquired with this purpose in mind.  Through what has been a long process, the property has been released from that commitment.  However, another piece of land has now been made available. It is on the other end of the golf course from Seymour Bay and appears to be more suited to our  purpose.  The intention is that the site will be donated to Rivendell Foundation and the operations would come under the society’s jurisdiction.  

Jennifer Graves ( who has just joined the society’s board) and I are working together to bring this vision to reality.  We would like to gather a group of people to vision together.  We plan to begin with one day of discussion and then collectively decide on a planning process.  We wanted to invite any of you who might have a particular interest is this vision that is rooted in your own experience in silent retreat or with other similar retreat centres.  Please let us know if you would like to be included in this initial meeting. Blessings, Kathi

Kathi and I (Jennifer Graves, the keeper of this blog) held the first visioning meeting on Easter Monday, 2012 and celebrated Rivendell’s Tenth Anniversary on June 3, 2012.

Mei’s drawing
On Easter Monday, 2012, when we gathered to renew the visioning process for the development of the Rivendell Hermitage, a similar vision of the design of the place was drawn by one of the women on our present visioning committee. She envisioned the buildings in similar places to the 12 Stone drawing and elaborated. She conceived of paths indirectly joining the buildings, creating a gentle, spiraling movement, like the movement of a dance. This design allows for the experience of solitude while retaining the closeness of a community. Both the most recent vision and the vision from 12 years ago envisioned a circular organization around a central building. In both visions the center was intended to be a place for a sanctuary and shared community space.

From that first meeting on Easter Monday, a smaller visioning meeting was formed of people who were willing to commit to more frequent meetings. The second site finally had its steering committee!

The visioning focus committee met through the spring and summer to clarify the unique mandate of the Second Site. They agreed that the new development, now called the Rivendell Hermitage, would Rivendell’s mission statement, identifying itself with the addendum, “The Hermitage is a site particularly dedicated to individuals, silence and solitude.” They also developed a set of five principles unique to the second site that reflected its unique mandate in the overall vision of the Rivendell Retreat Centre. These principles are found on the About page of this blog.

In the fall and winter of 2012 and 2013 Kathi and I met with Don Nicholson and Barbara Wahler to plan the main house and submit all the forms and documents necessary to apply for our building permit. On November 2nd we held the ground breaking, and finally, after much long waiting, on November 6, 2013 we received our building permit and site preparations began.