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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
The Weblog at The View from the Core - Tue. 12/07/04 07:08:05 AM
"Angels on the Farm"
I submitted this article to the Tribune-Review, but the main office decided not to run it: too much like an ad for a business, they said. The section editor thought it was fine, and even went and took some pictures to go with it.
Live and learn.
But I like it. So, here it is.
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Spirituality and the Internet, psychology and digital music, all intersect at an old farmstead on a winding country road between Fayette City and Brownsville. Since 1995, the partnership of S. Charleen M. Pavlik, Ph.D., and Karen J. Evanczuk, Ph.D., has provided a variety of services there under the name Angelspring Farm Wellness Retreat.
“We were looking for a house, and we saw a classified ad in the newspaper,” Evanczuk related, “but the realtor wanted us to look at the view first, before we looked at the house.”
Pavlik continued, “There was only a dirt basement, no insulation, and all the light bulbs were only 20 watts – but the appraiser said you could drive trucks over the floor” of the 1.5-story bungalow, now called Angelspring House, built in the 1880s.
Pavlik, a Franciscan sister, is an adjunct professor in the Department of Music Therapy at Duquesne University, and also serves as music director at St. Joseph Church, Roscoe. Evanczuk works for UPMC McKeesport as a family nurse practitioner. Angelspring Farm provides a unique, rural setting for their individual and combined services, but they also provide services off-site throughout the area, including corporate wellness programs, stress management education and treatment, and church retreats. Crisis intervention and griefwork took them all the way to Manhattan for a week after 9/11.
Angelspring House itself is available to accommodate small-group activities for up to 15 individuals. They can make themselves comfortable in the combined living/dining room with beautiful hardwood floors, dark wood trim, and wood-burning stove, and they can enjoy the out-of-doors sitting in Birdsong Garden or walking about the property, 30 of whose 111 acres are woods.
Four cats and three dogs also make their home at Angelspring Farm. Bird feeders attract more than 40 kinds of birds, wrens nest on the side porch, and turkeys and pheasants visit the grounds. Deer and raccoons are frequent visitors, too.
The latest improvement to Angelspring Farm has already become a special attraction: an old grain storehouse, refurbished as a guesthouse to accommodate one or two persons, it’s called simply the Granary. Now in its second year providing a place of quiet reflection for a night, or a few days, or even longer, the Granary comprises a main room, kitchenette, and bath. With but a short walk to Angelspring House, guests can take advantage of on-site services, including counseling, spiritual direction, therapeutic massage, and use of the Jacuzzi.
But, if they choose, guests at the Granary can just go there to be alone. Joyce Gazdick, of Stockdale, stayed overnight in the Granary this spring.
“They provide services there, but I just wanted to be by myself. I listened to meditative music, and it was very restful and peaceful.”
Gazdick, a past president of the Valley Art Club, enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, too.
“I walked around a bit, and I sat in the Granary and painted, looking out the window.”
She did appreciate the amenities afforded to her, though.
“They brought food out, and it was very, very good. And there were snacks in the refrigerator.”
Gazdick’s stay was a birthday gift from relatives who know Pavlik from her work in Roscoe. Karen Vogliano, a Granary guest the first weekend in November, found Angelspring Farm over the Internet. A mother of three who lives in the South Hills, she regularly makes a retreat once a year.
“I got on the Internet and searched for ‘Retreat Centers Pittsburgh.’ Eventually, I got to Angelspring and noticed it was close by.”
She had nothing but good to say about her experience.
“The Granary is wonderful. It liked it because it’s small. I’ve not been on a retreat before when it was just me, one on one. I keep telling S. Charleen that I feel I was led there by the Spirit, because I was renewed.”
Even the country setting itself gave her a new look at the world.
“The sunrise is right out your window! And the stars at night were everywhere. They were just everywhere.”
Vogliano also raves, as Gazdick does, about the food at Angelspring Farm.
“Karen is a great cook. And, coming from me, that’s saying a lot. The only other person who ever cooked for me was my mother.”
Evanczuk, who didn’t start cooking until she was in her thirties, is nonetheless modest about her culinary efforts.
“I can just read a recipe. I like to cook, and I picked things up along the way.”
She can provide meals at Angelspring tailored to a variety of needs and preferences, including vegetarian and vegan.
Angelspring’s newest product is an audio CD, published right before Thanksgiving, composed by Pavlik and performed by her and Evanczuk.
“Both of us have used music in our work,” said Pavlik, “and have found it to be very helpful. For at least ten years, we’ve wanted to put together some music for healing.”
Called A Shelter of Wings, and subtitled “Music for Healing, Meditation, Prayer and Relaxation,” the CD comprises four pieces ranging in length from 9 to 17 minutes. The first is based on a Navajo chant; the second, on “The Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi. The third piece was inspired by the writings of St. Hildegarde of Bingen; the fourth, a guided-imagery meditation, was inspired by classic lullabies.
For more information about Angelspring’s services, or to order A Shelter of Wings, call 724-938-2301 or visit their website, angelspring.net.
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S. Charleen was kind enough to tell me that I got everything right and that she hasn't been able to say that about every other article written about Angelspring.
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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
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