The Blessing House in Victoria, MinnesotaAnd sorry I could not travel both.
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
We read poetry from the time we are in school, stumbling through meanings and wondering how this reflects life. Rarely, do we find poetry lived out in life. Even more rare is finding not only poetry being lived out in life but that you find that someone in your own backyard. I have written here in my blog about the richness of talent, the gifted artists, business owners and entrepreneurs in our county. With my last interview, I was introduced to a visionary who lives her life by "the road not taken". She has taken that road most of us do not.
Pastor Gail Berger lives by taking a new path not knowing where it will lead, placing everything in God's hands. She is making spaces. This is her assignment she told me: offering her home to anyone who wants a sacred space for God to work. Her home is The Blessing House.
The Blessing House has been created twice. The first location, in Waconia, far exceeded Gail's vision and was very successful. With this expanded vision and wonderful success, she decided to uproot everything and build bigger, riskier and living on the edge "where God is".
"Then took the other, as just as fair.
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
The new vision for the Blessing House is being built on a beautiful parcel of land gifted to the new build near Lake Wasserman in Victoria. The Blessing House will accommodate more people, with a design that reflects Gail's deeper vision of making sacred spaces for God to work. The world works backwards, Gail told me. She believes in starting with the end in mind.
Her life, her work is proof of that. That end in mind for The Blessing House includes the following: being debt free with operating costs only; a place for art and music; large spaces and intimate corners separated by a large stone fireplace that looks as if it has always been there; a bog walk similar to the one located at the Arboretum; upstairs designed with old world traditions; a cafe where children can play; the lower level rooms will be designed with different themes such as the 1940's, shabby chic and mission style to name a few. Gail referred the these rooms as "memory joggers": spaces to remember our roots, be a kid again and to dream.
"And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh! I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
In a world overwhelmed with technology, "Twitter is a good name for that activity", she said with a smile. The Blessing House is a place to dig deeper into your heart and your soul: renew your conversation with God, Gail said. Everything in the house has a story behind it from the picture of the Waterfall to the gate you will see next to the stone fireplace. She happily told me she bought the gate for ten dollars. The Blessing House is different. It is a place that speaks to your soul.
Whether it is an individual hermitage, a private retreat, a place to explore or restore your faith in God, Gail is creating a home so unique and different. But, I will leave that up to my readers to experience the surprise and the sanctuary for themselves. And you can. Gail will be offering open houses this February.
Following the open houses, she will be offering classes in March called: Sunday Salons. One of the presenters is artist Jane ASK Bodahl. She will be drawing with shadows showing the connection between art and God.
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
Gail referred often to this poem by Robert Frost. The poem encapsulates Gail's life. The road diverges into another road and the path you choose is never a mistake. "I want to be surrounded by wonderful people and great conversation when I am ninety", she told me. And, I have no doubt she will. Come see for yourself and visit Gail at The Blessing House in Victoria, Minnesota.
"...and that has made all the difference."