St. Luke’s opens a spiritual ‘cure cottage’
Carriage house apartment is now retreat space
SARANAC LAKE — In the age of COVID-19, it’s far more likely to find doors closing than opening. This is not the case at St. Luke’s the Beloved Physician, the Saranac Lake Episcopal church that opened its red doors to in-person services in early August. Now the village’s oldest church is opening another door, converting its carriage house into a cure cottage.
After the space is cleaned and tastefully furnished, it will be opened up as a retreat space for any who need it, regardless of religious denomination or affiliation.
“It’s for everyone,” said Linda Jackson, senior warden at St. Luke’s. “Our doors are open.” The little A-frame building is hidden in the back of the other St. Luke’s buildings: the church, Baldwin House (built as the home of Dr. Edward R. Baldwin, director of the Saranac Laboratory, and purchased by the church in 1958), the rectory and the Parish House (which for 15 years was the Franklin County Library).
The carriage house has been rented out as an apartment for years, but when the Rev. Andrew Cruz Lillegard and his wife Theresa moved into the rectory in mid-July, it wasn’t long before Theresa had a more far-reaching idea for the little cottage.
“Saranac Lake’s oldest church is preparing to open its newest cure cottage,” said Father Andy, as he is called.
The quarters are on the second floor of what used to be a carriage house or garage, a cozy apartment with a fireplace, big windows and built-in shelves. The front door opens out onto a wooded area, with the requisite Adirondack lounging chairs and little grassy clearing.
Theresa said that the current time is a good one to create a space for a retreat. It will be a place to go “in a time of uncertainty, when people are searching for God, or how God can be more central,” she said.
Father Andy said that he envisioned the cottage as place for a few days of respite for visiting clergy, writers and artists, maybe a college student in need of a solitary break. The space is big enough for one person or a couple.
There will be no spiritual aspect required of the retreat for any who use it, but if visitors would like to add a spiritual component, Father Andy said he’d be more than happy to offer that as well.
The retreat is for spiritual health and rejuvenation, said Father Andy. “Both a ministry within and without.”
The cottage will not have a television, but it will have internet. It will also not require a fee, although donations may be suggested depending on the circumstances of those using it.
“It’s a ministry that’s starting off $500 in the hole,” said Father Andy, surveying the cabin in the Sunday afternoon light. The $500-per-month rent has been covering expenses for the building, including utilities, upkeep and insurance. The Cruz Lillegard family is paying for the first month, but after that the cost of the retreat will be covered by donations.
Anyone wanting more information or to arrange time at the retreat should contact the Rev. Andrew Cruz Lillegard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-556-1790. Got an extra copy of William Blake’s poetry or an espresso pot? Donations of furniture and household items are also welcome.