by Maggie Pheasant
In May 2021, I will be moving to Spokane to live at Haystack Heights Co-housing. This is the story of how I came to that decision. I imagined myself walking into a beautiful garden like the one you see in the photo. It seems an apt metaphor for my life since my 30’s―being led to intentional communities where the land delights my being and I become part of the community. And then I return home to experience living alone again…until now.
Haystack Heights is an intentional, inter-generational community sited on 2.5 acres in Spokane. Joining it represents one of the most courageous decisions of my life.
In November 1972, an invitation to Kairos House of Prayer began annual experiences of living in companionable silence and conversations, learning to listen to my still small voice and hearing, “you are at home here.” At a 30-day silent retreat at Kairos in July 1982, I experienced the dance of energy as 15 of us worked, prayed and walked the lands―deepening the voice that said, “I belong in community but not here.”
August 1982 brought me a fulfilling and intense experience of living with 35 cohorts in a master’s program followed by the loss when I returned to living alone again. In 1995, I found myself in the high desert of Arizona at Santa Rita Abbey which became my spiritual home. Again, a beautiful environment, living alongside others in an intentional community.
For the next ten years, I continued my search, and in 2014, I became a founding member of Wider Horizons, delighted by the community and longing to live in closer proximity: “walking next door for coffee.”
In June 2019, I came across Haystack Heights. It met 3 of my 4 criteria: beautiful gardens, inter-generational, and probably affordable. Location was the fourth. While on a road trip in Ohio that October, I came face to face with the reality that I could have what I wanted but was talking myself out of it, so I sought out trusted advisors and was buoyed by their responses. Later that month, I plunked down a deposit.
In December, I met with my co-housing host, spoke with a mortgage lender, and experienced the skill, commitment, and effectiveness of 50 members during a monthly business meeting. January 4-5, 2020 was my “go-no go” weekend.
During the meeting, I hear Jim, (a founder) address aging in place: “We hope residents will feel comfortable living here through end of life.” I dine with Sara and Doug who came from Idaho for dinner to talk candidly about the spiritual and cultural life in Spokane. And my still small voice says determinedly (finally), “you can do this.”