Reaching Out

Hardy begonia
Hardy begonia

We recently received a letter from someone who last visited Light Morning 15-20 years ago. She was reaching out, in a time of need, to a place and a group of people that she had obviously harbored in a sheltered area of her heart for a long time. Below are a few brief passages from her letter, followed by Joyce’s response.

“I hope you haven’t forgotten me after all these years, and I hope you won’t mind too much if I write to you regarding some of the things I’m concerned about again. I have no idea what any of you must think of me, but I’ve always felt a special bond toward all of you and have felt closer to you in certain ways than to anyone else or any other group of people I’ve known in my lifetime…

“I’m extremely depressed, have given up all hope, and can’t even find the motivation to meditate any more. This is a surprise to me because I’ve waited for these “end-days” all my life, knowing that it would mean a new beginning for an ideal world. I know that a large part of my grief is that I’m grieving with the spirit of Mother Nature. But this feeling of hopelessness is fairly new to me…

“I don’t mean to take advantage of your kindness, but I truly feel you are my brothers and sisters and I really need some help. I feel that God has forsaken me! Please write back if you get a chance. I trust you fully and care about you, even though I never see you any more. I hope you can feel the same toward me.

“P.S. Hope you can read this! I got a thorn in my finger today from the garden and can’t get it out.”

It was so good to get your letter, despite the pain. I am sitting here at my desk, watching several spicebush swallowtails working the hosta and the coneflowers outside my window. The beauty is intense, yet carries with it the sadness of which you speak. How long can Nature tolerate our foolishness? Will everything so fragile and precious be destroyed? Or will we somehow “get it” before it’s altogether too late?

No easy answers for me, I’m afraid. I do believe in the immense power of Good. Things look mighty grim, but somehow I do expect a turning. It seems we rarely turn voluntarily, so I expect some awful times. People hurting badly. Looking (finally!) with the clear eyes and hearts that so often accompany grief. And wanting to be part of that goodness.

I need to be ready, then, to show folks the beauty that I’m still seeing. So I try to keep myself in good enough shape to still be seeing it. There are times I lose sight of it–even now, with all the caring and the exquisite beauty surrounding me. So I know it’s a tough assignment.

I’d be lost if I were alone. I’m glad you reached out for support. For you to know we’re here, and for us to know that you’re there, and that lots of other folks are spread around in various obscure nooks and crannies of this planet–this is helpful; maybe even enough.

I’m one who needs regular reminders of what this goodness is about, so I choose to live with people who prioritize holding this awareness. Most people can’t live in a communal setting like this, but they do want to touch base from time to time. So we keep Light Morning open, during the warmer months of the year, for people to visit. A few days. A few weeks. It can help.

Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that the planet will reflect back to us our personal despair. To the extent that we give up, we will see Her giving up. Our constancy in the face of darkness, therefore, becomes an act not of denial, but of defiance. You are a warrior! Don’t go under! It’s important!

We rely pretty heavily these days on our dreams. Also on meditation. When we get out of whack, we hustle up to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, for an incredibly intense 10-day course at the Vipassana Meditation Center. It’s hard work, and I always sort of dread it, but it’s certainly effective. They don’t charge for this, by the way.

There’s another group in West Virginia, the Bhavana Society, who also offer meditation courses. (And likewise don’t charge.) We’ve never been there. I hear it’s not quite as grueling as V.M.C., but it’s still Vipassana, and still very good. Perhaps you could find your way to one of these places.

Or come visit us sometime, before you lose faith entirely. (Which I know you haven’t or you wouldn’t have bothered to write!) We still garden and chop firewood and all of that, though we also use computers now, and even have a web page (!) so that folks out there who are looking for support can find us.

We’re a mix of old and new; high tech and low. We’re building a big new community shelter called Rivendell that has several guest rooms, and plenty of room to dance, and we still hold pancake breakfasts every Sunday, as well as various other shindigs. And sometimes there are bears in the yard.

So come see us if you can. Meanwhile, may the creatures outside your window help keep hope alive in your heart. They are so beautiful. So precious. So are you!

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