Rector's Ramblings August 7, 2019
What follows is a reflection I wrote up for the Diocesan weekly newsletter. I’m sharing it here also, because it pertains to everyone in the Diocese, and also explains a little bit about one of the places I go on vacation!
The Diocese of Georgia’s Clergy Cottage in Saluda, NC has quickly become a favorite destination for our family. We’ve utilized the cottage on a number of occasions in the years I’ve served in this diocese, and each time it has provided a place of respite and retreat, while also serving as a launching pad for adventure. Some of those adventures have made for great life-long stories, like the time our youngest was bit on the foot by a copperhead while hiking in nearby Dupont Forest. Don’t let that dissuade you; she was fine, and we have snakes here, too. What we don’t have here are the mountains and the cooler weather!
When I speak about the Clergy Cottage, I sometimes find it hard to describe it accurately. It’s a quaint little cottage, about one hundred years old. It is simple and cozy, in a quiet street in the cool little town of Saluda. I have heard some call it “rustic”, but I don’t think that’s a fitting description, per se. It isn’t showy, by any means, but it has amenities that I don’t think apply to rustic structures. It has a small, but full kitchen and a full bath, and there are window air conditioners for use in the main living area and the upstairs bedrooms (there’s also a master bedroom downstairs), and it has all the pots, pans, and utensils needed to stay in for meals. Each of these amenities is simple, yet sufficient for a place of retreat, which is what the cottage was designed for.
In 1893, the Clergy Housing Association was formed with a vision for a series of cottages to be made available for clergy in southern dioceses, to have an opportunity for “rest and charge” as they enjoyed, “the salubrious atmosphere” in Saluda. The first cottage was built in 1901, and the original model was for just a few clergy, perhaps as few as one family, to enjoy the cottage during the heat of the summer months. Donations were accepted from individuals, parishes, and dioceses to build on the nearly eight acres donated for this purpose, which is how Georgia came to eventually have its own cottage. The Georgia house and the South Carolina house were the last two that remained from the Association, and the Georgia cottage alone remains in ownership of the Episcopal Church to be used for this purpose, decades after South Carolina sold theirs to a priest from that diocese.
For us, the affordability of the cottage makes it a great option for a family getaway in the summer. While my wife and I would enjoy it on our own, our two girls love it as much as we do. When we did not reserve a week at the cottage last summer, they were sorely disappointed! We find the setting to be refreshing, and we have never run out of things to do in the surrounding area. With DuPont Forest and Pisgah National Forest nearby, we can find lots of trails and waterfalls to explore. Surrounding towns, like Hendersonville, Brevard, and Asheville (to name a few) are great day trips. Saluda itself is a quaint little town with a good vibe, good restaurants, and eclectic shops. From the Clergy Cottage, we’ve been able to experience hiking, tubing on the Green River, antiquing, shopping, wineries, breweries, the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail, Shakespeare in the Park, small town festivals, and so much more.
The cottage itself is quirky, and it has an amalgamation of interesting furniture and decorations that only God would know the original source for. I can admit it wouldn’t be for everyone, but we find it to be a soul-feeding place to call home for a week at a time. Sitting on the porch rockers and listening to the trees as they sway, or reading a book in the living room at night, with a cool breeze gently coming through the window are favorites of ours. Perhaps you’ll have to try it for yourself. Clergy get first crack at the annual calendar, in keeping with the mission of the cottage, yet after a certain point, the open weeks are available to anyone in the Diocese of Georgia. It’s a gift that our diocese has such a resource, and the best way to be good stewards of the vision that created it, is to use it. I know our family is grateful to those who made and still make it available. I hope the hospitality and the ministry of the Georgia Clergy Cottage continues for many years to come.