How a visitor experiences Light Morning is a largely unpredictable meshing of the personal intent they bring with them, plus the “institutional” intent, or vortex, or energy field they find when they arrive. The former has to do with a visitor’s readiness and willingness to move into the “stretch zone.” The latter is a mysterious creature, shaped by the dreams and aspirations of all those who have touched or been touched by this place over the years. For Karen, these two intents came together in a surprisingly powerful way. She shared the following story toward the end of her most recent visit.
For me, visiting Light Morning is like eating potato chips. I can’t have just one! Within the past year I have visited three times. And I feel pretty sure that I’ll be back again.
The first visit was quite brief. My partner, Bob, and I had been visiting another community in the county and were on our way to visit yet another in West Virginia. Just before we left, though, a friend suggested that we check out Light Morning. He felt that we might have some things in common with them. We must have left three messages on their voice mail that day in hopes of stopping by on our way to West Virginia. Robert finally returned our calls that evening, invited us to lunch the next day, and emailed directions.
The drive to Light Morning was an adventure-a lot of curvy, back-country, mountain roads. “They sure are ‘out there’,” we thought. We parked and walked down the drive to the community shelter. Robert met up with us and gave us the short, “10-cent tour” of the grounds, filling us in on as much of the history of the place and the people as he could in the brief time we had before lunch. It was autumn, the trees were at their peak of color, the weather was perfect, and the grounds were beautiful.
Then we sat down to lunch. We had brought our “community booklet” as well as a short resume, which we shared with everybody. During lunch, Joyce, Robert, and Ron were very interested in finding out more about who we were and what our passions are. The food was delicious, thanks to Jonathon, the cook and gardener, who hurriedly said hello before he left for his chess-teaching job in Roanoke.
Everyone was so friendly and easy to get along with, surprisingly so for having just met. I felt like I had landed on another planet. Or better yet, into a magical fairyland. After hugs all around, and the precious gift of a freshly picked persimmon, we were on our way. I felt like I was walking on air and was filled to overflowing with positive, bubbly feelings. This was definitely a place I wanted to explore further, as did Bob.
We got to the next community in West Virginia and immediately decided to drive home. Once home, Bob and I both wrote letters to Light Morning expressing our desire to visit for a couple of weeks or so. Unfortunately, it was late October and their visitor season was ending. Unless we could visit within the next few weeks, we’d have to wait until the spring. We decided to wait.
In the meantime, we corresponded with Joyce, Robert, and Jonathon, getting to know each other a little better as well as finding out more about Light Morning. We planned on visiting for two or three weeks in May. May rolled around pretty quickly. Bob’s landscaping business got really busy, so he decided to wait until possibly August to visit.
I couldn’t wait! I had been looking forward to this visit all winter, so I decided to go alone. The first week I was mainly getting used to being in a new place and plugging into the routine. I was overwhelmed with all the attention everyone gave me, as well as their interest in finding out all about me. I was not used to talking and sharing so much about myself. I probably talked about myself more in that week than I usually do within a year!
I was also not used to spending that much time with so many other people. At home, I spend most of my time alone at work, or home with or without Bob. I was actually relieved when another visitor arrived so that I wouldn’t feel like I was on the “hot seat” anymore.
By the second week I was in the groove and enjoying myself. By the beginning of the third week I was getting a little homesick. That last week flew by, of course, and when the time came to leave I was wishing I could stay longer.
Returning home was quite an experience. It felt like culture shock. I live just outside a big city, so all the noise, pollution, cars, and congestion were suddenly intense. Bob and I were happy to see each other and I was overflowing with things I wanted to share. I realized that I had learned a lot about myself and had grown so much during my three weeks at Light Morning. I wrote him a 15- page letter; a summary of the journal I had kept during my visit.
Bob was overwhelmed with all the information. He was possibly feeling a little threatened, too, that I had had such a great time alone, away from home, and that I was already wanting to return to Light Morning for a longer, two-month visit, most likely during July and August-just three weeks away. So we spent the next few weeks trying to get back on line and in the groove, so to speak. Meanwhile, I was communicating with everyone at Light Morning and preparing for my next visit.
My intention for a longer visit was to more fully explore what life is like at Light Morning; to find out more about the place, the people, and their purpose. It sounds pretty simple, but boy, I sure didn’t know what I was getting into!! My earlier, three-week visit had been like a “honeymoon,” while my current visit has literally and figuratively been more like “living together.”
Spending two months here has given me a clearer perspective on what living at Light Morning is really like, as well as who these people really are. We got to share some of our shadow sides, our “bad” days, our struggles and triumphs, our daily habits, both good and bad, and our pet peeves. (Everyone knows the “best” way to clean the dishes and, of course, they’re all different!)
If I thought I had discovered a lot about myself during my three-week visit, I have learned a ton during this visit. I now have enough material to sift thru, work on, and resolve for possibly the rest of my life! Early on in the visit, during a conversation with Jonathon, it became clear that this was a good place for me to work on any problem areas in my life, and especially in my relationships. So I jumped right in and started sharing the troubles that Bob and I had been experiencing.
All of a sudden Light Morning (both the place and the people), as well as my dream world, turned into a forum for working on my relationship issues. I was sucked into the “vortex” that Robert had mentioned was here; a vortex that tends to bring up peoples’ unresolved issues in such a way that they can be processed right away. My feeling at first was, “Sink or swim!”
The amount of time, interest, and help that everybody gave me as I worked on my issues and dreams was tremendous! It felt like these people, whom I had only known for a few weeks, were suddenly becoming the best friends I’d ever had. If there’s ever a place to be pulled into this vortex and be “compelled” to work on one’s unresolved issues, this is the place. Which is probably why so many people have a similar experience whenever they spend a good chunk of time here.
Aside from the daily schedule of bread labor, meditation, and meals, then, much of my time has been spent on discovering repetitive patterns in my life, especially in my relationships, and realizing what initially caused the patterns to be created. Surprisingly enough, many of my realizations grew out of working with my dreams. Before coming to Light Morning, I had almost no appreciation for how much the dreams that I wake up with in the morning could help me deal with the problems that I face in my daily life. Now I’m hooked! Never again will I discard my dreams as useless and irrelevant.
All these discoveries have given me a new perspective on my relationships both with other people and with myself. I’m beginning to see that, ultimately, my relationships with others are an outward reflection of my inner self. On the one hand, it’s overwhelming to acknowledge that I am responsible for whatever occurs between me and another person. Yet this same realization also gives me the power to re-create and transform myself, and, in so doing, to re-create and transform all my relationships with others. The true challenge will be keeping this knowledge alive and present on a day-to-day basis; to use it as a theme to live by; and to find other people who are supportive of and open to this perspective and this work in their own lives.
The inner work I’ve been doing here at Light Morning has been very challenging. At times, I’ve felt as though I’m on an emotional roller coaster. In fact, it got so intense at one point that I decided to “take a break” by visiting a friend in a nearby city and watching movies for a couple of days! Yet I am truly excited about the growth, the knowledge, and the healing that I’ve gained. I know I’m a better person for it. I also know that my own healing and growth will ripple out towards everyone in my life and, possibly, from them to others, and then on and on, like dropping a pebble into a pond.
So during the last week of my most recent stay here, would I say it is worthwhile to make the time to visit Light Morning? Definitely! I would encourage anyone interested in community life, in sustainability, and in dreams, meditation, and other forms of spiritual practice to check out the life and people of Light Morning. Just be prepared (especially if you’ll be here for any length of time) to grow and to learn a lot about yourself and about how you create the world around you!
Maybe I’ll even see you here!