Thoughts from being “stuck”

Yesterday we had our first serious engine trouble with our “trusty steed” (Thx Matt & Kalene – I stole this from you!) and we are camping out in Florence, Alabama until Monday when it can be looked at.  As far as our “plans,” we were on our way to Tuscaloosa to visit Vinny’s old stomping grounds, and some more great people.

Upon waking this morning I found myself inquiring of God as to why we have two extra days before anyone can even look at it. What should we do with the time? What does He want me to do? Silence. I pulled up the “list” in my head, as if doing so would refresh His memory as to all the things I hope to accomplish with any spare time we have on this trip. Again, Silence. So I grew silent, and that’s when I heard His beautiful voice finally say to me, “As I see it, these are just two more days tacked onto eternity for Me to love you.”

Ahhh..isn’t Love awesome?

 

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A dream come true, and a contemplative question

A few days ago a friend of Vinny invited us to stay at a place south of Knoxville, TN called “Sweetwater Sustainability Institute,” and so we headed off for another adventure. :-)  For some reason before going there I was under the impression that it was once operating and thriving, but now abandoned. On the way I even found a website showing it off in it’s ‘glory days,’ with pictures of lush gardens, a pool, tennis courts, etc., and links (albeit dead links) to things like events, classes, and community life. I wondered what could have possibly happened to a “Sustainability Institute” that it actually didn’t sustain itself! :)

When we got there however, or shortly before, I learned my information was a little messed up. The Institute is not a reality yet! Vinny’s friend is associated with someone who acquired the property and a group that has a dream for it. Someone did a website to communicate what they imagine it to be, not what it currently is.

imageBut interestingly, the property is the old Tennessee Military Training Institute! Originally built in 1902, there is now a compound of 13 brick buildings that look like a massive fortress housing hundreds of dormitories, classrooms, halls, gyms, an indoor pool, etc., all located on 155 acres with a baseball and track field, tennis courts, etc. Sadly everything is now abandoned and deteriorating. We found out, too, that it has been studied by paranormal groups for being haunted! :)

I have to admit that when we first pulled up to the locked and gated entrance and I saw what looked like a “Fort Knox” castle on the hill, I became giddy with excitement. Many times in life I’ve had a strange reoccurring dream of exploring spooky buildings (abandoned hospitals or schools) with lots of empty rooms and halls. But I’ve never actually done it. In fact just last week I first told Vinny about my fantasy when we stopped in Virginia near an abandoned insane asylum. I asked a caretaker about exploring it, but the door was shut on that one. :)

Anyway, to make a short story longer, my dream came true this weekend!  We were given permission by our gracious hosts to explore the buildings to our heart’s content, and even though Vinny was less enthused than I was (apparently breaking into abandoned buildings is not entirely new to him, LOL), he graciously agreed to be my escort. I had a blast…and we didn’t even have to break any laws to do it! :-)


imageSome thoughts from being here

Later as I walked the cracked and deteriotating blacktop of the track field I couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of young men who ran and walked this same circle. Most of them are now passed away.  Even this very school was once a dream of someone and now is no more.  What is it that actually endures about humans and all their causes, pursuits and dreams? Everything seems to pass away.  Or does it?

One thing I am convinced of, and the evidence is undeniable, is that there is a hope built into every heart that we are more than a passing thought or a random accident of nature.  We are intentional.  Every single person has intristic value to a loving Creator and is made to manifest and house His very spirit – which is Love. My spiritual papa used to emphasize that our greatest desire is relational intimacy.  Not power, influence, peace, safety, wealth, etc., but love. It is for this reason it seems that the things that we remember and hold the most dear with all those loved ones who have died are the memories and enjoyment of loving and being loved.  As the bible says so aptly, “Love endures forever.”

With that being said, we are camping with some sweet people who know something of this love, and who have a dream for this property and are moving forward on it despite the obstacles to it coming to pass.  Even Vinny and I have a dream that we are out traveling to explore, and still getting more pieces to. But every day we are finding that we don’t have to wait for a future day to see dreams come true, and to invest in those things that will last forever.  The time is now for heaven to break forth onto earth.

Love one another.  You’ll never be dissapointed.

 

Cancelled Council – and a New Direction

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So last Sunday we returned to that eco-village I mentioned last time, to sit in and observe an important bi-weekly meeting called “Council” where community issues are discussed and consensus decisions are made (see pic). We were the only 2 visitors.  Interestingly enough, only 2 members showed up (one of them being the facilitator) and their rules say they need something like 4.  For the first time in 22 years, it was cancelled! 

A little frustrated, the facilitator apologized to Vinny and I, saying she was sorry we had to see this side of the community.  We told her no problem, as it really didn’t surprise us. No matter what system in life there is, whether religious, political, or something in-between, there always seems to be minimal, passive involvement on one hand, and controlling, more dog-eat-dog involvement on the other.

Smaller is better?

I have to admit that while I do not presume to know what is best for this community, in the simplicity of my mind I almost think two or three people should be enough to “get on with it.”  Or at least have something positive happen instead of the negativity of a cancellation.  I later thought what Jesus on a different but similar note, “where two or three (not two or more) are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst.”  Also, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word is established.”   In many situations, thinking “the more the better” is to miss out on the powerful potential that just two people with the same heart and mind have together. Step by step, two by two…So much can be said about the small things of life.

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On the road again :-)

With that being said, after visiting some precious friends the last several days, we have felt strangely led to cut short our stay in the beautiful mountains of the Asheville area, which is feeling too saturated with too many people doing intentional communities already, and go a little further West for awhile. 

imageToday we are at a small state park north of Knoxville, TN.  Not sure why yet, or all that we’ll learn here in TN, but I thought it interesting when at a rest stop today to notice the state flag of Tennessee for the first time.  It has 3 stars!  :-)

Much love,

Pamela

Tour of a Large Eco-Village and the Disillusionment of Life

We just returned to “civilization” (i.e. a cell and internet connection) from a 3 hour tour of “Earth Haven,” one of the most established and successful eco-villages apparently in the whole nation. Hard to believe that there were over 20 people from many different states to tour this community, and this happens about every weekend. It was educational to say the least, and I took a lot of pictures. What do I think of it all? I don’t know. It was fascinating to think that on this 329 acre property that there are about 70 people living almost 100% “off the grid” in several close-knit neighborhoods of various types of creative, earth-friendly homes. They produce their own hyro-electric (water from the stream) power, along with solar power, and do a lot of community projects communally, including a potluck every week, classes, etc. Currently they are in the process of changing their legal structure from an “intentional community” to a real, legal “village.” Tomorrow we are invited to sit in on their weekly council meeting, which is the center of decision making and community life.

The community was started around 22 years ago from the dream of a dozen urban refugees who wanted to live a more conscientious life that more closely cares for the earth and each other. Some buildings are new, but many are getting run-down and are in need of repairs. Some projects seemed half-started or abandoned. What we gathered from our visit is that each person has enough autonomy with their life and individual home on this land that they don’t have to work or contribute to community life if they don’t want to. They can just pay their dues and sit back. Others feel more invested in the health and survival of the community, however, that they put time and effort into it. The disparity between these two attitudes, however, makes for a place of beauty and tremendous potential, but falls short of any “garden of Eden,” if that makes sense.

The Disillusionment of Life

Mercy triumphs over judgment – James 2:13

Our tour guide made it quite clear that Earth Haven has had plenty of conflict. I could hear the pain in her voice, as it is never an enjoyable experience to have people depart from you who you loved. Or it it “still love?” Which reminds me of a billboard we saw on our way here that says “Jesus still loves you.” Ughh. I hate religious things like that. It is petty. God has never had any illusions about us. In fact, our tour guide said something that struck me as very wise. She observed that relationships (including community life) start off with honeymoon-like feelings of being in love with each other, and then go through a stage of failing one another’s illusions and expectations. This leads to a stage of mourning and despair, and sometimes (unfortunately), relational loss. But after we go through this stage, we find ourselves entering into a new stage of appreciation. We might miss the person (or community) and their gifts. We wish we didn’t focus so much on their weaknesses. We lose the anger and the judgement. This leads us full circle back into love again. This doesn’t mean we are to be back in close life with that person or group, but we can at least appreciate our time with them, and the lessons we learned through them. Ultimately there is reconciliation and restoration we experience.

So what prevails? Love. It always prevails.

I hope this encourages your heart as it did mine! :-)

Until tomorrow…
Pamela

Just one letter away from being Alone

“Alone” or “All One” ?  They are just one letter apart from each other

 

 

2015-2016 Winter Trip Introduction

As most of you know, my husband Vinny and I run a campground in upstate N.Y. during the summer months. As it stands right now, however, it’s not cheap nor feasible to winterize it to stay year-round. So on November 4th we headed south! :-) Not only to escape the cold, but to hopefully do a lot of listening, looking, and loving. And several friends have encouraged me to blog about the adventure. So here it is :-). Only I don’t have the blog up just yet, so I am going to use FB notes until I can put something together.

What are we looking for?

I started to write this section but got way too long-winded. :-) So I will just shorten it to say that a focus of ours this winter is to visit a lot of eco-villages and communities that are practicing or moving toward practicing permaculture, self-sustainable practices, etc. At least for the month of November this is our plan. Personally I’m new to some of this – even a bit hesitant – but as my understanding of “relational interdependence” is growing, I see more and more the value in trying to live in such a way that strengthens the planet versus weakening it, and does not depend on systems that are failing or bound to fail to survive. I’ll try to talk more what I mean by relational interdependence in future blog posts. Meanwhile we are currently camping in the outlying hills around Asheville N.C. where our adventure has started. We toured one community yesterday, and have an appointment to visit another today. I’ll try to share my impressions as soon as I can!

Sending love,
Pamela
P.S. Here is a short video I took on our way to N.C. :-)

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