Sanctuary Story

The Continuing Story of
Living Source Sanctuary and Retreat

(Clues are red between the lines)

First Flash

The Holy

It was during a meditative journey on New Year’s morning 2016 that the vision first appeared. I saw the building tucked in the thick of the woods of our lower property. Leaning against the structure was an old man holding out an offering bowl.

He appeared to me as a Hindu sadhu. Yogic tradition presents sadhus as wanderers who pray for the spiritual benefit of their communities and whose needs are met by offerings from village householders in a relationship of reciprocity. The vision felt directly linked to my business. (Be open to receive, be willing to contribute)

I told very few people about this vision, particularly after a local intuitive’s response was to chide me for carrying “scarcity” issues, saying a beggar was an inappropriate symbol to hold for one’s business. Though resources were indeed becoming increasingly scarce, I’d learned to trust what I saw/heard that appeared in waking dreams like this. (Personal attachments can limit our perceptual flexibility) (Beware of absolute judgments)

I’d learned over time and with practice that how we relate and respond to what rises inside and around us matters…as in it literally becomes matter. If we pay close attention, we may notice that our inner world expands outward, creating patterns of experience that assume shape and form through an unknown physics none of us fully understands. (We are the Creation and the Creators, the Immersed and the Watchers, the Perceivers and Projectors)

When safe to do so, there is great value in staying present to what appears as exclusively Bad before judging or responding. When we reject something outright we might dismiss a hidden holiness being offered by Creation.

Second Glance

Artist Sara Minck

The next glimpse of a future sanctuary came February 22, 2020 while walking in the backyard. I was mentally muscling my way through a number of serious personal challenges, the least of which was financial. Everything I held dear felt threatened. I didn’t yet know to what extent. (Pay attention to intuition)

During my walk, a bald eagle flew overhead from west to east. This is a rare event in CT. (Make note of what’s unusual) As it passed, it glided above the lower woods. I once again saw the building I’d seen in 2016. A sense of urgency overcame me, as if the future was shouting back through time. I felt some hope.

Hours later, the optimistic loft of the eagle and the second glance of a sanctuary in the woods nosedived in a grand crash and burn. A single event collapsed my world in one downward swoop. I experienced something deeply threatening that registered exclusively as Bad. Life as I’d known it changed. (Expect the unexpected, things are always in flux)

In the days/weeks/months that followed that day, the Covid pandemic stopped the world just as I had been stopped. It felt like a form of my personal experience projected to a global screen, or vice versa, playing out themes of fear, uncertainty and death. Whatever the reason, “we” were, indeed, in it together. (While we hold individual agency, the personal and the collective are inextricably linked)

Further Fall

August 2020 – After six months of mining for gold in the dark shadows of personal and pandemic stress, I began to re-remember the little I did know: that the tomb is also the womb. Eventually hope returned as I recognized that what fell in February could not be carried into a truly fresh future. (Destruction and Creation are the original soul mates)

Urban Miners

It was time for new tools: headlamp, shovel, hammer and partnership. My husband Joe ( and I began to work together after years of operating on parallel but separate tracks. We dug a firepit in the backyard. We brought people together outdoors for socially distant music gatherings. As my business temporarily slowed, I joined him in constructing and selling garden beds made from salvaged materials. Because of Covid, many were nurturing their own backyards. I got to know his passion in ways I’d formerly resisted. He did the same.

Then, adding fuel to the fire of transformation and change, Mother Nature brought a tornado to our property.

Mother Nature

Four massive trees that surrounded our home were sheared in half when the funnel cloud hit. In forty-five seconds, our property looked like a war zone. By a miracle of inches, our home was spared completely. Initially we were relieved and tremendously grateful for having sustained no injury or the loss of our home. This was followed by a surge of fear as we discovered insurance would not pay for the removal of fallen trees that didn’t damage the structure. We had no savings or available credit for tree removal. Irrecoverable loss loomed. (Dare to reject what seems certain)

Yet Nature’s aim was so perfect that the trees fell as if to hold us in a hug. The six-foot high barrier of trunk and limbs blocked every point of entrance/exit to our home, creating an emergency insurance exception for their removal. Our policy assumed the $30k cost for debris clearance and in less than a week our property opened to sunlight it had never seen before! (Having no escape brings everything within reach)

December 2020 – Mother Nature’s lead had gotten our attention, so we humbly followed by linking our will to hers: what other trees needed to fall? (Practice shapeshifting to become, rather than to control, the “weather”) How could we assist Her in clearing the ground for the persistent vision of a sanctuary we had no resources to build? We used the tiny bit of leftover insurance money to remove dozens of small trees, saplings and brush in the lower woods. The virtual sanctuary continued to stand as an apparition—with no apparent pathway to make it a reality except faith in the original vision and taking whatever small steps could be taken toward it.

Villagers Fill the Cup

2021– Self-employment income loss during Covid prompted us to consider creative ways to meet our basic needs using resources on hand. We opened a bedroom in our home to Airbnb guests at a time when few were traveling or even gathering with their own families. We took reasonable precautions but weren’t stopped by pandemic fear. (Use presenting circumstances as a springboard for creative opportunities)

This is when the idea of using our home as a retreat center began to take root. Service to the community took on new meaning. Beauty making became the attractor. We reconfigured the flower gardens with sunnier blooms. The sadhu’s cup began to fill with coins for greater possibilities.  By Autumn, the Living Source community office closed and clients were welcomed at our High Rock Road home in addition to our Airbnb guests.

By year’s end, mostly because we were willing to welcome strangers into our midst despite the pandemic, we somehow accrued the most overnight guest stays for a CT new host. This shined a spotlight in our direction. News and TV media carried our story. It was as if the idea of finding retreat and sanctuary in a storm was reaching toward the public, through us. (Pay attention to patterns and trends)

2022 – Friends and colleagues begin to circle around the retreat center idea, bringing their time and talent to support the effort.

With the help of our dear friend Damien Taylor, we started to create infrastructure and renovated the basement to add a second Airbnb room.

Dr. Ping Fei Guan (Cheshire Chinese Medicine Center, (203-699-9618), celebrated in China as a Feng Shui consultant on major building projects, came to our property to assess our home’s ability to support health and wellness for ourselves and our visitors. He determined that our home’s structure and lot placement was average, but that the land in the lower woods held a level of extreme benefit rarely seen. We shared the vision of a future sanctuary with him. Dr. Guan added that if we built it, I should consider conducting all of my client business from there. He also suggested we consider building a second home on the site.

We were light years from having the time or the resources to even build a shed, let alone a second home! But Dr. Guan’s enthusiasm over the power of the spot was contagious and sealed some invisible deal that set things in motion.

Just after the Feng Shui consultation, Kimberley Windbiel, dear friend and Living Source colleague, ( donated an REI tent and a propane heater to “bookmark” the space until the sanctuary could somehow manifest physically. It was a short-lived placeholder.

2023: Eden Re-remembers

When we bought our property in 2015 and it came time to name the WiFi network, I chose Eden.

The idea of relating to our homes and backyards as gardens of belonging held lifelong importance for me. The choice confirmed a vision of home I was given in 2014 while on a pilgrimage to one of the holiest mountains in the Andes of Peru, Apu Ausangate. The wisdom teachings and medicine practices of the indigenous people of this region formed the heart of the Living Source mission. I’d been lucky to be initiated into their lineage as a North American counterpart, and in a tiny way was linked to the cultural prophecy of partnership, peace, and harmony that would come after many signs in nature. In the Andes they speak of this as the time when the eagle of North American will fly wing to wing with the condor of South America. (Be aware of repeating elements that connect random dots!)

In 2023, this prophecy that might return us to a sense of Eden started to feel very personal minus one vital element. (Everything begins at home)

My dear friend Sue Neufeld suggested I needed to increase Artha, or the resources/means to fulfill my earthly mission. She was an international teacher of the yogic Four Desires (creating a life of purpose, prosperity, happiness and freedom/aka Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha). As friends and fellow teachers, we walked side by side in what we considered sister traditions on the path of the tantra of heaven and earth.

Sue was guided by the masters and wisdom of the Himalayas to bring these traditions to everyday folks in our own backyards. I was guided to do the same, joining the wisdom from the holy mountains of the Andes with the spirituality that moved me from birth. Our partnership brought these two axes together, forming the chakana, the mystical cross of the Inka tradition. Before she left this world in 2018–way too soon for all of us who loved her–she told me she would send a sage or two from wherever she was going on the other side to make Artha possible. There’s nothing like the promise of a friend.

One anonymous “sage” appeared in the months prior to the Covid pandemic and helped steady and sustain us during the time of turmoil and fall.

The second “sage,” who also prefers anonymity, came forward to bring the financial means for the Living Source Sanctuary. The sadhu’s cup was overflowing. I gave my high school friend MJ Meglio a picture of the humble building I saw in the visions. She crafted a draft design that eventually became the permit plans for construction. Eden was about to gain a second address.

So it was no surprise that Adam was the name of the contractor and artist ( and ( who showed up for the job. Silly as it seems, his name, coupled with my intuition and Adam’s artistic use of Joe’s salvaged materials to build a backyard platform, was the reason we chose him for the job, bypassing many good friends who were seasoned contractors. This Eden required someone else, someone new to us who could tap the dark roots of an ancient and epic story and carry it forth as only a talented visual artist could.

Builder and Mural Artist: Adam Viens

The project took on a life of its own beyond our original imaginings. In a sense, the sanctuary became the ultimate general contractor. We each had to step aside from our various roles as overseers, watchers, funder and builders to make room for a larger source and force. Deep bonds have formed during this co-creation. The net of connections extends literally to the floors and walls, bringing together all those who rollerskated in a New Haven roller rink, sat in a seaside cottage in Niantic, or gathered to pray in a convent in West Hartford. The sanctuary challenged us to use the task of construction/creation as a practice that explored life’s larger questions:

How do we combine elements of old and new that seem incongruent?
How do we respect each person/material in the project to be themselves/itself, and trust the result will come together in beauty?
What if love is the most precious building material?

And the Source behind the Living Source Sanctuary and Retreat provided answers to at least a few unasked questions:

This is how we live life as art

This is how humans make their way back to Eden

This is how love spreads to other backyards