Record heat doesn’t dent enthusiasm for return to La Casa

The record-setting heat was the headline for many in Santa Barbara on Saturday, July 7 but for two small groups on the grounds of La Casa de Maria that day, it was barely a footnote.

In the relatively cool Terrace Room of the big stone house – the Center for Spiritual Renewal – a group began the day in a circle for a day-long session that served to introduce them to Capacitar method, a healing modality.

“Are we the first group back?” asked one participant hopefully. They were. La Casa de Maria has been closed since January when a devastating mud and debris flow destroyed nine buildings. Since then many staff members have been let go and most operations have ceased. The events of July served a toe dip in the water of the institution returning to its original mission, by starting small.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the property, participants from Christian Family Camp, who had relied on their annual summer retreat week at La Casa de Maria for decades, were gearing up for a morning of work. Even though La Casa was closed, many wanted to make the annual trip to Santa Barbara to help out on the property and give back in some intentional way.

“Small things with great love,” participant and leader Ali Kirkpatrick reminded the group as they started their work. Within a few short hours, the Shalom Garden was revived, other small gardens tended, and trash and debris were cleared from La Casa’s grounds.

Acting Director Anne Price emphasized how healing it was to friends of La Casa back on the property and get some much-needed help. “There’s been so much emphasis on the damaged side of the property,” she shared. It’s great to get the help we need on the undamaged acres. There’s still so much to do.

The Capacitar participants left their mark too. In the tai chi portion of their session leader Taran Collis urged them to toss up a blessing and share the light. “We’re letting go of the past,” she offered “and blessing the land with our presence today.”