The Hudson River, what some call “America’s River” is center stage this year. It is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery, and to celebrate the Hudson River Valley is providing a sensory and cultural feast. Ships (no strangers to the river) are in even greater number. Among them is a replica of Hudson’s own ship, the Half Moon. Folk singer, Pete Seeger, now ninety years of age, lives in the neighborhood, and he has a touring ship complete with music and the history of the environs.
The villages of the Valley are raising consciousness in their own unique and authentic ways. Millbrook, which has a fine winery, also boasts of a dynamic, independent book store where well known writers and artists are often signing their latest works. Recently, in the spirit of the anniversary year, it was one of the hosts of a two day book festival which emphasized the history and natural resources of the river.
If you consult the web or a travel magazine about the region you’ll learn about the Culinary Institute of America, the spectacular fall foliage, Vassar College’s art museum, the summer Shakespeare festival at Boscobol, the West Point tours, the mansions of America’s industrial titans, and of course, Hyde Park, the Roosevelts’ home. This year, on October 11th, the region will be celebrating the 125th birthday of Eleanor Roosevelt. I plan to join in the festivities.
What you may not find in the regular literature is anything about the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, a mission of the Friars of the Atonement, located on Route 9 in Garrison. Usually Sunday Mass is at 11 AM in Pilgrim Hall, and the congregation comes from various parts of the Valley, forming a community of prayer and action, which includes on-going dialogue with members of a nearby mosque. What strikes me about this particular place of worship is its natural insertion into the life around it. Perhaps it’s the Franciscan influence but the seasons and their rhythms are part of the outreach. In the winter one can purchase wild bird seed (or bring your own) and after Mass it’s blessed, an encouragement to feed the littlest of creation. In springtime, wild flower seed is available and the congregants take it to make the public waysides more beautiful.
Nature photographers are encouraged to bring their work to Graymoor for the enjoyment and edification of the many visitors. Gardeners sell plants uprooted from home (for a small price) to augment the Spiritual Life Center’s budget. One Sunday I carried away a “bleeding heart”, a plant remembered from childhood.
The Center offers courses in church history, women’s issues, retreats for just about any group you can think of—and any occasion; for example the new year is welcomed in the context of a two day retreat. For one hundred years St. Christopher’s Inn (located near the Center) has offered help to recovering alcoholics. The inner beauty of Graymoor perfectly matches the outer delights of the Valley.
Because Graymoor, like the Holy Spirit, is ever new it’s best to consult the web site for the latest spiritual/artistic offerings.