Early Letters: 3

Dan discing our garden

This is the third of three posts containing brief passages from letters that Joyce wrote to those becoming interested in Light Morning soon after we moved to the land. The first bouquet of vignettes (and a fuller introduction) can be found here.

April 1975

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 will soon be tearing down an old house partway to the mailbox. The owner will get half the lumber, we’ll get the rest — flooring for our new kitchen, and maybe a wall or two. The woodshed is begun. Gone is the peace of winter. In its place is the sense of a lively awakening, a new beginning. The seasons complement one another; a gentle succession of moods.

* * *

Eventually 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 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 also feeling responsible toward the ideals 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. Illicit drugs threaten the community’s relationship with folks in the surrounding area, something we value highly.

Those are two. We don’t yet know of others, because by living here we have automatically adjusted our behavior for the sake of the group and its purpose. That’s what community implies. But we’re not aware of everything we’ve adjusted to!

It seems 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 this straightened out before you (or whoever) arrives. But it’s 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 Indiana visiting my mother, I returned home to Light Morning to find your Easter letter. The blessings of the life here are again fresh to me and so 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 played by the sun and wind and clouds. 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 own 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. After enjoying the past winter in a tent, I don’t consider this to be much of a problem.

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

Finally, we need you. Our work load is not heavier than we can handle, but we can do so much more with just one more person. The garden, a wood shed/tool shed to build, the kitchen to expand — these 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, and that flows through your letters as well.

* * *

It’s a lovely, quiet Sunday. Our ears are cocked for the sound of approaching company. Bees are buzzing around, impatient for the promised blossoms.

* * *

Today we are using different words when 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’s 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 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 an understanding grows — through dreams, the day’s experiences, the intuitive knowing — about 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. The guidance we received is still central to the purpose here, especially Part Two: 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 some quite difficult periods.

Our commitment, remember, is not to each other, but to an ideal. We have been working together for two years now, so 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 challenges you will face of being the newcomer in a group of four people who have pretty much gotten used to each other.

We welcome and need new blood, so to speak, but old ways are comfortable. We all tend to balk at change, any change, and we would sometimes as soon smother as risk taking in new air. So there will be lessons and stretchings for everybody. We’re ready at this end, so come when you can.

* * *

Another magical day. Half an hour before sunrise we heard the whip-poor-will, who just returned after wintering elsewhere. The pear tree by the driveway is in bloom, as are the young volunteer peach trees, each proclaiming the victory of some blithely tossed pit. Daffodils, crocuses, violets, and forsythia are blooming. Tulips and tiger lilies, gladiolas and iris, apple trees and cherry trees will soon be blooming, too.

May 1975

The hand pump

As to your question of where would be a safe place to locate your community during these trying times, we wish we could be of more help. Last year, when we were considering whether to buy this piece of land, we asked our guidance that same question. We were told that safety is not to be found in a physical location, but in the level of our being.

My first reaction was, “Well, of course, but…” I have since come to better understand that if we are prepared inside, the changes will not affect us, though we stand in the midst of 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. There’s a new moon, and new energy. We would love to hear how your vision is unfolding. Meanwhile, may our friendship strengthen us all, and all those we meet.

* * *

Today’s hawks and yesterday’s thunder. The laurel blooming. Fresh spinach from the garden. But I’ll hold off and greet you when you come. Then we can walk around and you can see for yourself.

* * *

The whip-poor-will will soon say that it’s quarter to nine and time to turn toward sleep. He is punctual, never missing a night, and perhaps senses our appreciation. The bees are still working the raspberry blossoms that nearly surround our tent. But they, too, will soon retire. Night, and then a new morning. The miracle of that alone.

Grass and hills