Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Posted on June 6, 2010

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For our short Youth Conference, we took our youth up to a non-profit Ranch in Morgan. It has an interesting history. A couple who had been very successful as the owners of a local chain of craft stores decided to build a ranch, where they would live and invite other fellow environmentalists. Longtime scouters, they made it very scout-friendly, and very ecologically-conscious.

But they made some interesting additions of their own. Anyone who builds for scouts knows that the facilities are going to get some wear. These, however, were built of the highest quality. The pavilion, a meeting area with a large, welcoming fireplace, had stained concrete floors, the nicest stainless grill I’ve ever seen, a full, professional kitchen, granite countertops and a backsplash all the way up the wall, home-style cupboards with wrought-iron hardware, stainless appliances, and stone-tiled floors. High-quality screens rolled down and clipped to the floor to provide a little privacy, if wanted. Top of the line.

The bathrooms, all four of them, had private showers and cloth hand towels. The stone tiles matched, and so did the granite counters and wood cupboards. The showers were huge and spacious, stocked with full-size bottles of shampoo and creme rinse, nice brands. Soft bath mats in front of the showers. Quilted toilet paper. As pretty as any hotel I’ve ever stayed in. There was a full laundry facility. Boxes of puffs and baskets of paper hand towels. Fully stocked woodpiles everywhere, please help yourselves.

All of this, essentially, in their front yard. Can you imagine building a multi-million dollar home and having people wandering around it all the time?

Pretty pricey, you’re thinking, right?

$5 per person, per night. Free range of the facilities. Would you like to do archery? We’ll have someone there to help you for as long as you’d like to stay. Would you like to play tetherball, jump on the trampoline, have a game of crochet? We’ll have the materials out for you. You say the merry-go-round is slow? We’ll grease that for you. No problem. So glad to have you.

As adult leaders we talked about this all the time, as we walked back from one activity or another. Had they had any problems with their guests? How did they make this all work?

This is not all they do, either. They run a non-profit that goes to the Congo and provides support for developing economically self-sustaining villages. They teach agricultural practices, encourage self-sufficiency, and have a plan for schools, clean water, and protecting their food supply. They pour money in, and the strange thing is, money keeps finding its way back to them.

I’m a huge believer in karma and the give-first principle. I saw first-hand what happens in an organization when that’s built in to the philosophy, when it’s the center of doing business, not just the mission statement on a plaque somewhere. It reminded me of the fact that doing good is its own reward, and that giving the best of oneself expecting nothing in return is the way to live. It is so tempting to reserve the best of ourselves for something private — ourselves, our families — but what happens when the best of ourselves is shared, freely, with a printed invitation … how can I make my gift to you better for you?

I am reminded of the best of the world, and the gift that God gave us. Not the leavings or the scraps, but all the materials to do amazing things, and sometimes a freebie that asks nothing of us, like a fabulous sunset. And I am inspired to give the best of myself freely, to invite others to share in the things I’ve worked hard to create. Wow, what a feeling to take down that artificial boundary of distrust and just share because it makes me happy, unworried that someone will take advantage.

That’s how I want to live. I’m inspired. The world can go on with its competition and contracts and legalese; meanwhile, back at the ranch …

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