Letters From Light Morning: 1 — Winter 1975

Light Morning's first community shelter
Light Morning’s first community shelter

Introduction

Letters From Light Morning is an account of the early stages of a small, intentional community in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It consists of passages from letters which were written to people who had inquired about the purposes of the community and about what had been learned since moving there.

These verbal sketches tell of the many transitions that were being made at that time: transitions from nuclear family to the complexities of consensus and cooperation; from the comfort and conveniences of modern living to wintering in tents, drawing water by hand, and chopping wood for heat; and from the excitement of the initial vision to the gradual realization of the long-term commitment needed to manifest that vision.

From ice storms, bobcats, and smoking wood stoves to whip-poor-wills and the return of spring, these letters offer glimpses into a way of life to which an increasing number of people are being drawn.

December 1974

The early entrance to Light Morning
The early entrance to Light Morning

As to our community–who we are and what we’re about–we’re as yet too young to know that in full. We’ve been on the land less than a year and are small in number. Yet we share a vision of the needs of these times and are trying to respond as creatively as we can, given the limitations we each place upon ourselves.

We came together several years ago, focusing upon the information being channeled through one of us, with an attempt to share this information through the writing of Season of Changes. We have since been learning a great deal about some of the various aspects of the response called for in the book–self-sufficiency, common purpose, the communal lifestyle, nature’s gentle wisdom, sharing within a greater network of nearby communities, and more. It has been a rich year, sometimes difficult, always vital, and we feel that perhaps we are beginning to glimpse an understanding of what it is we came here to do.

* * *

Yes, we have a community; or rather, the seeds of a community sprouting. We bought the land in the beginning of 1974, and four of us moved up here almost immediately to get things started, the rest to follow in their time. Now, after almost a year, we have learned a lot; yet we feel as though we have barely begun. We are still a long way from the full expression of our ideals and from the image that a phrase like “spiritual community” brings to mind. We have been shown that, as with a seed, our community has its own rate of growth, not to be hurried, but by Grace.

Meanwhile we are learning much about self-sufficiency. Our first year, it seems, the emphasis was on gardening, preserving, and foraging, ways to simplify and meet our food needs. Our attention is turning now toward shelters–how to build small, heatable structures out of available materials. At present we are living in tents and are discovering things we thought we needed but don’t (heat, for example, as we were accustomed to it), and likewise things we didn’t know were essential and now find are (like an openness to the stars at night, a closer relationship with the weather, the sounds of the forest). I’m sure that with some experimentation, we can learn to build quick, simple, warm and dry, indigenous, open shelters, and that these “homes” will be useful tools in the coming times of transition.

There’s more, of course, like learning to live together in community, which entails a sacrifice, albeit willing, of a fair amount of personal freedom. The nourishment of the common vision (which is for us what a leader or guru might be in another situation), the mutual inspiration and giving one to another, the overcoming of one’s own negativities and the forgiving of another’s–these are part of the challenge and opportunity of the communal lifestyle. I can sense that in community is the practical, living promise of global harmony. The grade school, so to speak.

* * *

I can feel your enthusiasm for community and for a more natural lifestyle. I realize now, after having toyed with the idea for a long time and then finally becoming involved in creating one, that it’s hard to know, except vaguely, what you want ’til you get out there. Yet perhaps you could share some of your thoughts with us. What makes you want to give up what you’ve got, for example, to go off somewhere and work hard and try to learn to love a bunch of people who aren’t always in a good mood, and then it rains on all your almost dry laundry?

It’s a good life, but it’s too hard to do unless there’s a reason to do it. One’s purpose, we’ve found, is the bond that keeps it all together and growing. So that’s the first step, to try to figure out what you’re getting into this for. After that things will fall into place. The people come, the means, the land, and suddenly you’re doing it.

Sometimes we here get to thinking that this community was put forth long ago and we four, five, seven, whatever, were incidental to it. It needed somebody and we happened to fit. If we get off the track, it’ll get somebody else. So it’s just the willingness to be used that gets it going.

* * *

This year was mainly a concentration on supplying food needs. Now that the garden’s done, and the food’s in the new root cellar, attention has begun to shift to shelter. We have an old, small barn-like structure that serves as a heatable kitchen, gathering place, library, and meditation loft, but it is obvious that as more people come here, other needs must be met. The “temple,” for one, and the library, and a comfortable place for visitors…

* * *

We have no jobs, for many reasons, including that the community (especially now) needs every hand it can get. Also, having all worked, we know how difficult it is to maintain a job and still devote one’s energies toward inner centering and growth. We appreciate that when we began this venture, we had among us enough capital to buy our land outright, thus no mortgage payments to meet. We also receive some income from the sale of our book, from donations, and a bit here and there for something we’ve done for somebody, but mostly we have very little money to use. Our response is to learn to do without. We’ve been learning the difference between wants and needs, and that indeed, our needs are always met.

* * *

We have no animals (except bees) and hope to avoid needing them as they add to the work load considerably. We don’t eat meat and have moved pretty much away from dairy products. Our aim is to simplify; it’s the only way that we can keep to the balance in our days. Mornings for study, dream work, and meditation; afternoons for working; evenings for sharing together.

* * *

Don’t let the “hardships” deter you from living a sane life. The ones that come to people’s minds–the physical ones, like chopping wood for the stove, or doing laundry, or walking a mile to the mailbox–those are not hardships. I love chopping wood; Marlene doesn’t. Marlene loves canning; I’d rather chop. Ronald loves gardening; Robert loves building.

So we all help Ronald mulch the beans one day and help Robert build a wall the next and somebody cooks supper. Community, combined energy, complementary skills and inclinations. It’s a beautiful way to get a lot done and have energy left over. What folks don’t realize about walking a mile to the mailbox is that our lifestyle gives us that time to spend walking, with energy to appreciate the beauty, the silence, the rhythm of the walk.

The hardships, the real ones, are inner and have to be met anyway. It doesn’t matter where you are. It’s just a bit easier out here. Nature offers constant support, inspiration, and (once one learns to read her ways) much true guidance and wisdom. The simpler lifestyle serves to focus one’s attention where the matter is, thus speeding things up a bit.

And community is like a hall of mirrors, always pointing out where growth is needed. Not an easy way, because there is no easy way. But good, helpful, healthy. The particulars are not important–animals/no animals, electricity/no electricity. Some do it one way; others another. What counts is the commitment to growth.

* * *

A week of Christmas cookies, cards from friends, caroling for some of the old-timers down the road, and tonight the New Year’s Eve party at Travianna, another of the communes near us. We’ll all have to prepare by napping, as we’ve taken on the early-to-bed habit that country living seems to invoke.

Meanwhile it’s 32 degrees and raining. Robert’s out clearing a trail on the west ridge. Ron and Marlene are in the kitchen by the fire, pouring over the seed catalogs, preparing the order. And I sit in my tent, wrapped in a blanket, raindrops on the roof, with an occasional optimistic bird chirping. There is much peace here.

January 1975

Clothes line
Clothes line

This piece of land came to us out of the blue. Or out of Mother Earth News, actually. It was in the summer of ’73, just as we were getting more involved with the writing of Season of Changes, that we started to think about looking for land But the readings said, “Cool it; land will come; concentrate on the book.” Hard advice for seven excited people to follow!

But we heeded it, and made plans to go land hunting the following spring. In November, however, an obscure ad in Mother Earth News caught our eye–“An old farm outside Roanoke, Virginia. 150 acres. Remote, but accessible.” We pooled our money, purchased the land, and moved up here last March. We could never have consciously found anything more suited to our particular needs and purposes. Just one of those things.

* * *

The acreage is 130 in woods and about 20 cleared, of which we make use of about 5. The rest sits, waiting for our purpose here to become more clear to us. Meanwhile there are trails and several tiny streams and a lot of exploring to do. The beauty of it is humbling.

* * *

We will grow, but slowly. The readings talked of a small nucleus of permanent residents and a large number of people passing through, staying for varying lengths of time in order to get a taste of communal living and to pick up skills, ideas, and inspiration for their own such endeavors. That concept feels right to us. Meanwhile, the four of us are as caretakers here, getting things started.

* * *

The size of the small nucleus is nebulous. Twelve? Twenty? We don’t know. We hold a faith that those whose particular dharmas are to work through this project will indeed be drawn here. There are many ways. Some will find themselves suited to this one; most will find their full expression in other forms. Each person, we believe, has the innate wisdom to be able, after a span of several months of living here, to know if Light Morning is where he is to commit his energy. We know that it is neither under our control nor should it be rushed.

* * *

There is much to be learned about becoming self-sufficient, while at the same time holding an ideal of a balanced day–mornings of study and meditation and exploration; afternoons working; evenings sharing together. This can only be realized by simplifying one’s needs, as we are attempting to do. To some, our lifestyle looks rugged. They see only the things that we live without, and do not see how richly we are rewarded in terms of the peace and rhythm and order in our lives.

* * *

Our faith must constantly be reborn within each of us, our vision renewed. It is inspirational to be reminded of the scope of the greater work of which our endeavor is but a minute part. That it is a planetary movement.

* * *

As to how to go about finding or creating the particular community or situation that offers you what you seek, that is a complex question. There are many communities springing up all over the country, each one a bit different from the next. The trick seems to be to sort out what you want, in as much detail as possible–questions like diet; electricity vs. no electricity; self-sufficiency as a goal or not; whether you want a teacher or guru; a western, Christian expression or a more Eastern approach, or neither; drugs or no drugs; whether or not you want animals. And then to find or build what you envision. Many of these questions seem insignificant until you explore the implications. Common agreement is essential.

* * *

There are many ways, good ways, and what we’ve done here is to create one way so that people can come and try it on for size and thus get a better feel for what it is they want and don’t want.

* * *

A misty day, after becoming spoiled by the warmth and clarity of a mid-winter heat wave. Several 60 degree days. Too hot for sweaters. Lovely for sunbaths, and for sitting around philosophizing on the symbology of the sun.

* * *

I don’t use the word “meditation” to apply to my times of peace, for the word seems to scare the peace away. An avalanche of things I’ve read and heard about meditation comes pouring down upon me and I stiffen. The mind is strange.

So for me there are times of contemplation, where I have a problem and listen for an answer or suggestion or a clearer understanding to be given. Then there are times of centering myself, regaining equilibrium after some negativity has played within me. (“Who are you,” I ask myself. “What do you want to be?”) And times when I stretch myself to hold on to some particular joy or beauty. To stay alive to it. To answer it, so to speak.

There are times, too, of keeping my attention steady, clearly and deliberately, perhaps while walking or doing dishes. Not letting the mind go rambling within its encasement. And always I am rewarded by some heretofore hidden loveliness. Perhaps the colors of sunlight refracted through dancing bubbles of Liquid Ivory. It’s all around us in the everyday–beauty, truth, spirit–but we are asleep to it, we miss it, we’re too busy within our own shells.

* * *

It’s so simple here that I think you might be amused at all the notions of hardship and ruggedness that most people have in mind when imagining our days. But I speak from a year of adjustment to it, so I may not see it objectively either. It’s probably something that takes getting used to (first a desire to get used to it) and then seems easy. I remember once telling my mother that I’d never learn to read, it was just too hard and complicated. I was four then.

* * *

Our community, as we ourselves are, is dual in nature. While on the one hand we are a seed of what will grow into an expression of spirit and goodness, on the other we are four people living in tents, on an old farm with rundown sheds and barns, and no way to make more than a handful of guests at a time comfortable, unless they be quite used to primitive living. Should it rain at lunchtime, for instance, making our usual “dining room” (a circle of logs out under an old apple tree) unusable, all must find space within a 12′ x 12′ kitchen/office/library. The logistics become interesting with greater numbers.

Some day this will be different. But for now we are reluctant to encourage everybody to come all at once. We very much want to share this experience with as many as we can, and we certainly need all the assistance we can get from those who come, both with inspiration and ideas, and with actual physical help–getting things planted or built or harvested. Yet we know that if we rush it, we will miss the mark.

Outdoor dining table
Outdoor dining table

Letters From Light Morning: 2 — Early Spring 1975

February 1975

Cook stove
Cook stove

Since picking up my pen, the wind has begun one of its roarings. A strange day, with its own story. An ice storm several days ago left every tree, pine needle, and blade of grass frozen, as though of glass. Fragile glass mountains. Lovely, yet also the sense of tension, the trees bent down under the weight, the strain on the brittle limbs, rigid and vulnerable. But there was no wind to threaten them.

Then earlier today the sun shone for about 20 minutes, just enough to release the branches, to give them back their essential flexibility. And now this raging wind, and those thousands of trees, bending and twisting. I can feel their wild and joyful freedom.

* * *

More sun today, and quite welcome. It seems that a physical adjustment to cold is much easier than the corresponding mental adjustment to sunlessness. But so far we’ve had only two of those long (6 or 7 day) stretches–one in early December and one just ending. Otherwise, winter has been a joy to me. I find it more beautiful here now. So open, with long views of mountains and valleys. And the pace is perfect. There are, as always, innumerable projects. But they are more patient than the summer ones. Nothing’s going to ruin if it has to wait another day.

* * *

[In response to someone who had been touched by Season of Changes.] There appears to be an ever-growing fellowship among persons like yourselves within whom this information finds confirmation, and who are responding as constructively and creatively as possible, given the many obstacles involved. Change comes hard to us all, and such a turnabout in lifestyle and in basic assumptions that seems to be called for is as difficult as it is essential. But as you and we and many are realizing, it is indeed time to turn.

* * *

Your resolve to make your move as quickly as circumstances allow is heartening. The rewards are so great. It’s something like leaving the Shire [a reference to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings], the same sort of reluctance and even fear, and, too, the actual difficulties to be met. Yet also the joy of aliveness and the challenge of the task. There is help everywhere, and that builds faith, and faith is conducive to learning to love, which is giving, and that helps somebody else, and so on.

* * *

I sometimes wonder if the particulars of where to settle and what to do are relatively unimportant as long as one holds an openness to change; a willingness to be lead by that perfection which has brought us this far. My faith in that process is growing daily.

* * *

I wish you could see what happens to the mountains when there’s a good snowfall. For several days after, there is a surprising variety of animal tracks every which way. This morning, two very clear pairs of tracks going up toward Temple Hill. A rabbit, followed by a bobcat. (I presume the chronology.) And by the time I got to it, a third set of tracks alongside. But they turned back after a bit toward yoga knoll and led to a Robert already well into the exercises.

Yesterday’s walk to the mailbox brought discovery of some strange ones, especially coming in the back way thru the woods, where it’s a fairy-land of laden boughs and rhododendrons and the sounds of the still unfrozen stream.

Bobcat tracks
Bobcat tracks

There is peace here. Peace and order and beauty. I no longer think I could live any other way. Hopefully we will soon be able to share the depths of this experience with more people, for it is something that one’s mind cannot stretch enough to imagine.

* * *

It’s not yet time to begin gardening. We’re several weeks behind even Roanoke, because of our altitude. And Roanoke is several weeks behind Virginia Beach. So we wait. A seed-bed to start, but the tilling and planting comes more into April. A neighbor plows and discs for us and we have a rototiller to finish it off.

Meanwhile, our days are filled with things like wood-chopping, cleaning up old piles of this and that, removing poison ivy, trail-making in the woods, landscaping the root cellar, clearing lumber off Temple Hill, distributing Season of Changes, a growing correspondence generated by the book, designing individual shelters and the expansion of our community shelter, planning tenting spots for visitors.

Robert’s writing another book (Wax Statues, Cotton Candy, and the Second Coming), Marlene’s putting one together on drying fruits and vegetables, the garden needs a rabbit fence, roofs leak, tools need sharpening, brush needs raking, a raspberry patch needs clearing, fruit trees need pruning, clothes to wash, meals to cook.

That’s not to mention our own centering gestures (yoga, meditation, study) which take up all morning ’til lunch, and our sharing together (talking, reading aloud, making music, visiting neighbors and nearby communities) to which we give our evenings. In other words, the days are full.

* * *

The next people who want to join us here will have a very difficult time of it, as things now stand. None of the four of us fully realize what these two years of working side by side have done for us and to us as a group. We have different predilections and ways of thinking and of doing things; yet we are also tight-knit in many respects. We hold much in common, many basic unspoken assumptions and habits of relating to one another, just like in a marriage. This has been necessary for the building here, the holding to a common purpose.

But it seems time for us to learn more flexibility, more givingness, a further degree of lovingness, a gentle accepting of differing ways–while in no way compromising our purpose here. We had neither the skill nor the secure faith in our vision to be able to do this before, but I think we can do it now. In fact, according to the brief glimpses given me, we must do it. I find it the most difficult and exhilarating thing I’ve ever tried.

* * *

It’s warming up; should make for a good hair-washing day. That always lifts my spirits beyond reason. Perhaps it’s a breath of fresh air for my brain.

* * *

The past ten days have made my notes on preparing for cold seem irrelevant. New grass is sprouting, daffodils and tiger lilies are making their beginnings, many of last year’s favorite birds have just returned, the bobcats are mating (eerie cries in the night), and a general balminess. Not yet, though, that smell of fresh, moist earth that permeates a young spring day. And today’s wind confirms my own caution based on the memory of a year ago. It can get very cold. Come well prepared.

March 1975

Garden Way cart
Garden Way cart

Finally this letter begins. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the dynamics of the process, what it is that a letter waits for, sometimes so long, and then suddenly an urgency. Now! Often it takes me by surprise and I’m suddenly filled with a sense of communion with someone whom my thoughts haven’t held in weeks. Sometimes I write; sometimes I let the wave pass by. I always wonder.

The weather has been wet and cold. I didn’t want to send that to you. It’s still gloomy out there, but yesterday’s sun dried out my soggy insides. Friday night’s gathering started it. I came home feeling like one of those transformers up on a pole–6,000 volts coming in and only a 200 volt line in which to express myself. A whole bunch of clear-eyed alive people.

* * *

It’s good to be a community again. The six weeks alone gave us a new perspective on marriage and its expansion, as though marriage is, among other things, practice for community. And beyond community sits global harmony. But that’s bigger than my range at present.

* * *

There are the difficulties, of course, as one accepts the responsibility of learning to love one another in community, but these are to be met in any environment; community only intensifies things and thus perhaps quickens the pace a bit.

* * *

Robert and I have been busy designing a “house.” There’s a reluctance on both our parts to think about moving into a solid structure, but it’s becoming clear that something further is needed. Two major reasons, one being physical comfort and flexibility on the bitter, sunless days; the other being the need for an example of a small, simple, inexpensive, comfortable structure. The tents, as I think you might agree, are a bit hard to relate to.

So our house is in drawings. Plans so far are for something about 9 x l2, with lots of openable windows east and south, dug into the earth a few feet for warmth and coolness, made of rock and poles and pine slabs. A tiny stove in one corner for days when the sun’s not out. A patio and grass lawn and flowers and plenty of space for sleeping out under the stars.

* * *

Gardening will begin soon. Fruit trees are arriving from nurseries, blueberry bushes and rosa rugosa to get bedded down. Ronald just started a watercress patch in one of the streams. But not today. Today makes spring seem still far off. Robert’s up in our tent, writing; Marlene’s down in theirs typing a Paul Solomon reading; Ronald’s been trudging around in the snow on one of his mysterious missions. We will all gather again at supper time and talk about the warm days coming.

* * *

Congratulations! Your find [of a wood cook stove] sounds beautiful. As I sit near our warm stove this cold snowy day (about 5 inches so far), toasting wet toes, I can assure you that you will not regret your investment. There is nothing quite so wonderful, seen from this perspective.

Last night we went over to a nearby commune for a session with some folks who came up from Raleigh, N.C., to see and learn about alternative lifestyles. They’re a college class, actually, prof and all, though some aren’t students in the normal academic sense, and very fine people. One of their keen interests is alternative sources of energy. So with the usual sense of humor, an ice storm put the lights out for the night.

* * *

Marlene just came back from the mailbox where she and Willie made a snowman for the mailman who never showed up. Roads too bad. Manana, perhaps.

Robert’s up in our tent, thinking; Ronald’s down in his, reading. A peaceful day. All projects buried and canceled. The cardinals are frolicking in the wheat we threw out. Fighting, actually, contrary to their image. But mostly they sing, when they’re not forgetting.

* * *

Sometimes I find myself becoming impatient when the way is not clear; yet things always seem to unfold according to a masterful perfection.

* * *

[In response to a letter from another community.] What of yourselves, and your inspiration and experiences thus far? Perhaps we could trade some of the inspiration (even at the level of book bartering) and maybe even our experiences, or at least tales of how things are going. That would be my wish, anyway, were I not inclined to believe that you folks find your time growing ever more precious. As do we, I suppose.

Yet it would seem that within the network that is growing–the many and varied communities–there would be much to gain from such a mutual sharing. Perhaps some economical system will develop. Meanwhile, we would welcome any news from you about your community and its growing edges, and also any questions you may have about ours.

* * *

Just the barest beginnings of spring. Craggy old trees turning young. New shoots of other things, up for the first time. But the birds seem to be familiar with the place, and glad to be back.

* * *

Some warm days and the garden is cleared for turning. A new season. The open season. The plentiful, the busy, the expressive season. We have cherished winter’s peace, yet the magic of last Sunday–three groups of guests, all with different energies, blending them in warm fellowship–brings promise and gladness into our hearts.

* * *

A dip back into the low twenties after a luxurious hot spell, during which the “season” here must have officially opened. We had nine for lunch on Sunday, not counting us. Various groups coming and going the last few days. Everyone brings a different energy, so the blending (the soup de jour) is always different, excitingly. We enjoyed Eddie and Maureen and Michael’s company, and I think they left with more of an understanding of what’s happening up here; one cannot really pick it up through letters or words.

It’s a funny thing. I’m just beginning to realize that it is not even something that we can show to people who come here. It is given, as though from some other level, and we are just part of the scenery. Nature is a main character, conspiring through weather, through her subtle signs and tokens, through even subtler influences that we can feel but can’t name. She woos and sabotages. We can only stand back and watch.

Sunday was just such a day. There is a couple we have known for quite some time, who live nearby with their two children. Over the past year they have come up quite a bit and we’ve exchanged ideas and directions. A friendship has grown. Until recently, they’d been searching for land, looking to do a homestead, meaning self-sufficiency alone, not in community. (There’s an enormous difference.) But they have moved away from a need for independence, and even for self-sufficiency. “Christ-sufficiency” is their term for what they want. In Season of Changes it’s referred to as Self-sufficiency. The idea’s the same.

We have much in common with these people, so we have often wondered whether they might eventually be drawn toward living with us. Our ideals are similar, including diet. (They are Arnold Ehret folks, but did not handle it the same as we did, so have been able to go on. They eat no cooked foods.) They are aware of the implications of simplicity and they know, through experience, of some of the trials of community.

We’ve talked about the ins and outs (ups and downs?) of their coming here, wondering about the outcome should they choose to try it. That’s where the 3 or 6 month waiting period takes the tension out of the idea of expanding. Everybody knows that if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Not a decision, per se.

The big question that we and they have is whether our “spiritual paths” are enough alike to be compatible. They are more orthodox in their interpretation of Christianity. Not fundamentalists; yet more so than we are. They have a background similar to us (lots of Cayce, etc.), but their language is a bit different from ours. (Of course I say “ours” blithely, for even among us, we have quite different interpretations.)

So none of us know, but we four look forward to trying it out to see how much difference it makes. At the moment their hearts lean toward this community and its purpose. They want to wait for inner confirmation before any decisions. It’s hard from their end; there’s no security in a move like this. It may be where they are meant to be, and yet again it may not.

Anyway, that’s where Sunday comes in. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was magical. Light Morning’s purpose was in evidence as we moved between varying groups of visitors, all coming for different reasons, to take home with them different seeds. The blending, the flow, the fellowship, the peace of the mountains. All who were here were touched.

It’s hard to be rational at a time like that, if you’re considering living here. Then to top it off, the couple’s two children happened on the “laboratory” and spent the day fixing it up, bubbling with delight, sweeping and rearranging the furniture. A sore test for alternative courses of action. That’s what I mean by “sabotage.”

* * *

Such a blustery and wet night! The cook stove smokes at every gust, looking much like wizard’s work. It is also a gentle suggestion for me to head up the hill and to bed.

Letters From Light Morning: 3 — Spring 1975

April 1975

Our neighbor Dan
Our neighbor Dan

Our neighbor, Dan, was over yesterday to plow. There was a last-minute scurrying around to move sawdust piles, transplant favored weeds, rope off the rhubarb, harvest a little doomed catnip for some addicted cat friends, etc. We’ll soon be tearing down the old house part way to the mailbox. We’ll get half the lumber, the owner gets the rest. Flooring for our new kitchen, and maybe a wall or two. The woodshed is begun. Gone is the peace of winter, but in its place is the sense of a lively awakening, a new beginning. The seasons complement one another; a gentle succession of moods.

* * *

Eventually, no doubt, we will be working more with active and passive solar energy and hydroponics and many similar things that other people are into, so keeping up on them is important to us. Yet we’re still trying to keep the rabbits out of the carrot patch!

* * *

Do plan to come when you can. This year, next year. We’re all feeling that it’s time to gradually open up to longer visits; for as you know, that is part of our purpose here. But it’s new for us and as yet largely unthought-out.

We face a number of questions right off, like a reluctance to set up restrictions of any kind, yet on the other hand a feeling of responsibility towards the ideals that we adopted and for which we were given this land to use. People’s dogs and cats, for instance, frighten and sometimes kill our wild neighbors with whom we are seeking a closer trust and friendship. Drugs, because of their illegality, threaten the community’s relationship with folks in the surrounding area, something we have come to value highly as an essential aspect of our work here.

Those are two. We don’t know yet of others, because by living here together we have automatically made certain adjustments in our behavior for the sake of the group and its purpose. That is what community implies. But we don’t know just what we’ve adjusted!

It seems that we need to sort out these self-imposed guidelines and find out which are important to the vision or ideal which we have been put here to build and which are not. And to then communicate these. We will try to get ourselves straightened out before you (or whoever) arrives. But it is possible that our thinking will be either incomplete or overdone, in which case none of us should be surprised by a few growing pains.

* * *

After a week in the Midwest, I returned home to Light Morning to find your Easter letter. The blessings of the life here are again known afresh to me and thus do I more keenly appreciate your wanting to try a new way of living. The rewards are far greater than the “sacrifices.”

It is not always as you saw it here, not always the beautiful, magical weather, the splendid display of bright stars and near-full moon. Yet the mountains are constant, their blend of power and peacefulness, and the purpose of the work here holds through the moon’s many phases and the infinite games that the sun and wind and clouds play with us. We are glad to hear that you will come live it for a while, to see if Light Morning is your way.

As to timing, we have thoughts and preferences, but trust to your innate wisdom for the final word. The earlier the better from our viewpoint. We found that coming in the spring, with winter still a long ways off, was essential to our process of adjustment. Housing is a consideration, too, as we would be reluctant to have anyone do any building of permanent shelters before the initial waiting period was experienced. So coming late in the year would probably mean a tent or a tipi the first winter. Which, after enjoying this winter in a tent, I do not consider much of a problem.

The end of the summer also means the tapering off of company, so that the relative solitude of fall and winter would be a misleading glimpse of a community that is largely dedicated to sharing itself with a large number of visitors.

And finally, we need you. Our work load is not heavier than we can handle, but we can do so much more with even just one more person. The garden, a wood shed and tool shed to build, the kitchen to expand–those are the major projects. We would love an extra hand.

So come when you can. Bring a tent and the same mellow gladness that flowed through you while you were here with us, and through your letters as well.

* * *

The day is lovely; a quiet Sunday, ears cocked for the sound of company. Bees getting into things, impatient for the promised blossoms.

* * *

Today we are using different words in speaking of our vision. “Permanent member” has fallen, and all that it implies. The emphasis has shifted from “people coming to see if Light Morning is their way,” to “people coming to clarify their vision, to find their way.” Light Morning is good for that. It is a place for listening, a place for a closer contact with one’s own wisdom and spirit, for understanding one’s purpose.

We see now that that is what is happening with us. We are finding our particular ways of expression, our modes of usefulness. We four have taken on a responsibility to care for the vision of the community as well, to get things going, to build tool sheds, plant gardens, and welcome visitors. But this may not always be our lot; it may pass to others, while we are led in other directions.

So when you come, don’t plan to stay forever. Come to learn to listen, so that you can hear what your next step will be. You may find that becoming a caretaker here is part of your dharma, as it has been part of ours. Or maybe not.

You’ll know more of that after a season or two of being here. We’re groping for a word or term to use to refer to that time of transition, during which the understanding grows–through dreams, the day’s experiences, the intuitive knowing–whether such a commitment is to be taken on.

The time must be long enough to let the thick, sticky film of familiarity settle upon the experience, dulling the initial surface sparkle, and thus calling for the deeper glow. And time enough for spirit to express itself fully; to enact the plays and dance the dances and sing the songs that will tell you of your part in this and other things. Meanwhile, we can help each other stay open and attentive, holding on to the flexibility needed for a full and loving response.

* * *

You might want to read Season of Changes if you haven’t already. Those readings are still central to the purpose here, especially “Part II: The Response.” We all have our various interpretations and understandings. Yet much of what’s expressed in that book is what has bound us together over quite difficult periods.

Our commitment, remember, was not to each other, but to a central ideal. We have been working together now for two years, and anything you can do to figure us out (our purpose, our basic assumptions, our language, our patterns of relating to one another) will help you in the challenge you now face of being the newcomer in a group of four people who’ve pretty much gotten used to each other.

We welcome and very much need new blood, so to speak, but old ways are comfortable. There is a part in each one of us that will balk at the change, any change, and would as soon smother as to risk taking in any new air. So there will be lessons and stretchings for everybody. We’re ready at this end, so come when you can.

* * *

This day, another magic one. The whip-poor-will a half hour before sunrise. He returned the day before yesterday [April 20th], after wintering elsewhere. A clear day, soft blowings of branches, the birds still announcing the beginnings, though it’s been two hours already since dawn.

Light Morning is going well. The first year is over, the first full cycle, and we can sense its end. A new feeling here. Stronger. Less shy. A renewed confidence and faith in the vision. And the details are smoother, the relationships and responsibilities .

The pear tree is in bloom, and the young peach trees, scattered randomly, proclaiming the victory of some blithely tossed pit against many odds. Daffodils, crocuses, violets, phlox, forsythia, and almost tulips; tiger lilies coming; also gladiolas and iris; and the apple and cherry trees will bloom; and the raspberries. Flowers somehow have more of a place here this year.

May 1975

Hand pump
Hand pump

It’s one of those darkened, blowy, but exciting days. Some rain earlier, and more to come. But vision is clear, even clearer than on cloudless days.

It speaks of a challenge to become as alive and as vigorous.

Things go well. Our second year will be quite different from the first, I think. We were perhaps a bit shyer then, replaced now by a growing confidence of purpose. Things seem to become simpler as one gets used to them. An easiness getting this year’s garden in, as though having seen it work once, we can see it again now.

The new blossoms on the pear tree takes us back to last year when the pear tree bloomed, and once again the greening tips of trees, and the lilacs and the peonies, and again we hear the whip-poor-will just before dawn. A sense of continuity that we didn’t have before.

An initial reaction to the idea of such a long journey to come see us was a wondering if we had that much to offer. But as I step back to look at our life here, and remember other ways, I see that even in the occasional awkwardness of our beginnings, there is something here that is important and whole, and that needs to be shared.

* * *

As to your question of where would be a safe place to locate your community, we wish we could be of more definite help. But the specifics of the land changes are not known to us beyond some general impressions (via the readings) of losing portions of California; the Great Lakes dumping into the Midwest; and new land off the Atlantic Coast.

When we were considering this piece of land that had come to us “by chance,” we asked that very question. (“Would it be a safe place?”). We were told that safety was not in the physical location, but in the level of our being. (Season of Changes, page 253) My first reaction was, “Well, of course, BUT…”

I have since come to better understand the wisdom there; that if one is prepared inside, the changes will not affect him, though he stand in the midst of the chaos.

Translated into more practical advice, I think this means to go wherever you’re drawn, staying open to the guidance that can bubble up to consciousness, holding to and refining your purpose, building it in your imagination, and then letting the current of circumstance carry you. The purpose (spirit) itself will do the maneuvering and use you as it sees fit, be you willing.

* * *

The spring is lovely here, and it’s a new moon. New energy for all of us. We’d love to hear of the unfolding of your vision as things begin to manifest. Meanwhile, may our friendship strengthen us all, and those whom we meet.

* * *

Today’s hawks and yesterday’s thunder and the laurel blooming and fresh spinach from the garden. But I’ll hold off and greet you when you come and we can all go off walking and you can see for yourself.

* * *

The whip-poor-will will soon be telling us that it is quarter to nine and time to turn toward sleeping. He is exact, never missing a night, seeming to sense our appreciation. The bees are still out working over the raspberries that nearly surround our tent. But they, too, will quit soon. Night, and then a new morning. The miracle of that alone.