As a sanctuary for people and nature, Starcross provides volunteers, donors, and members of the community with positive memories and meaningful spiritual connections. A few members of the Starcross family share their experiences:
My experience at Starcross, from August to December 2020, changed my life. I arrived at Starcross feeling burnt out from the demands of young adulthood. Slowly, the quiet, beautiful landscape and wise, spiritual people who surrounded me helped me breathe and love life again.
I have so many happy memories of picking blackberries and apples, wandering in the olive groves, walking in the redwood forests, and stargazing. Being at Starcross allowed for spiritual growth in a way I never expected. I'm sure it was the mix of the supportive community, intentional time for meditation and prayer, meaningful work, and free time to roam the beautiful grounds. I was so inspired by Sister Julie and Brother Toby —how they began Starcross because of their calling to care for children with AIDS and how they’ve built a loving community outside the bounds of convention.
Today, my life is slower and simpler, even though I’m back in a city. As I pursue my calling, urban planning, I am more intentional about how I spend my time. I make time for “being,” not just “doing.” My time at Starcross taught me that there is a simpler, more peaceful way to live. It was the gift of a lifetime to live and volunteer at Starcross.
-Madeleine S., St. Louis, MO
"Doing what they can to meet the needs of the times" is the best descriptor of our dear friends at Starcross. Brother Toby says that God twirls His Rolodex (Toby's young friends would say searches His Contacts), and Starcross pops up, periodically, as the best organization to meet a need. Serendipitously, Toby or Julie receive a call for help, and they figure out how they can answer that call. Starcross gives so much to us and to others, so whenever we can help Starcross meet the needs of those calls for action, we feel blessed.
My husband, Phil, shares his handy-man skills, and I help organize the Starcross Food Pantry. I so appreciate those of you reading this who help us with that food pantry. Some help us distribute the food twice a month, and others help Phil and me with the pick-up and delivery of food from the Redwood Empire Food Bank. We can always use more drivers, in case you are interested! When we can, we are happy to help financially as well. We hope those of you who are able to share your talents, or financially support Starcross, will do so. It will make you happy, and your gift will be well-used and sincerely appreciated.
-Barbara and Phil J., The Sea Ranch, CA
I have been a “distance-devotee” of Starcross since finding the community by chance about nine years ago. During a serious illness, I read most of Brother Toby’s books, and I know in my bones they helped my recovery. When the pandemic hit, his weekly reflections became real lifelines for me.
So often it has seemed Br. Toby’s wise and beautiful words were speaking directly to me and were just what I needed at the time, even though they are inclusive and universal in their reach. Even when he takes on the painful issues confronting us all, he finds God’s help, love, and beauty through his meditations and leaves the reader wiser and more hopeful.
The “weekly walk” photographs have been breathtaking gifts of nature’s glory throughout more than a year of being cooped up in the city. Starcross feeds a wide community: those in close proximity who benefit from their food bank, as well as those at a distance who are fed spiritually and emotionally with beautiful sights and messages to live by. Starcross has a wide reach on a number of levels, not least of which is the ongoing integration of young people into the community. How hard it is in these times for youth who feel spiritually lost in a harsh world to find a shelter in the storm. Those who spend time here thrive, grow, and come to know themselves as valuable parts of God’s world.
Starcross would never have existed without the genius and strength of Sister Julie, Brother Toby, and their beloved late Sister Marti. It is a precious place to be cherished.
-Barbara J., San Francisco, CA