The Lofty Chronicles: 4

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Gifts and Abilities

A Small Space (Friday, 12 July 1991) It’s close to suppertime and we’re nearing the end of a long day. As we pick up the community shelter’s living room, Lauren’s in a rambunctious mood. Joyce finally says, “This is too small a space for hopscotch or for jump-rope…”

“Or for sermons!” Lauren adds, deftly finishing Joyce’s sentence for her.

We all laugh. Even Joyce has the grace to grin.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 4

The Lofty Chronicles: 3

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Lofty Brown

Lauren at the treadle sewing machine

Lauren’s Stories (Monday, 1 April 1991) It occurs to me to list the books we’ve been reading aloud in the evenings before bedtime over the past several years. Joyce and I have enjoyed this ritual for most of our married life, but the following books are the ones we’ve shared with Lauren since she first started paying attention to the stories when she was three. Now she’s about to turn seven.

Humans have an innate need for stories. Radio and television meet much of this need currently. But since Joyce and I have never had a TV, we resorted to the intermediate technology of books. Prior to literacy was the long and arguably richer oral tradition of storytelling.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 3

The Lofty Chronicles: 2

This continues an ongoing series of posts about a young girl growing up
and pursuing child-led learning at Light Morning. The series begins here.

Just For the Joy of It

The Light Morning family. Harvest time 1990.

What If I Were the Only Adult? (Saturday, 10 November 1990) Sometimes I get haunting glimpses of what it must be like to walk through the Light Morning lifestyle in Lauren’s shoes. It’s clearly a magical place to grow up, but Lauren is the only child here. What if I were the lone adult living with five or six children? What if it were their interests, needs,and priorities that mostly dictated what I could or couldn’t do, and when I could occasionally go to visit other adults?

It’s a humbling empathy that permits a parental oppressor, however well-intentioned, to perceive the world-view of the oppressed.

Continue reading The Lofty Chronicles: 2

Differing Perspectives on East and West

I awoke this morning with a quickly dissipating cluster of dreams. By the time I had finished dressing and was kindling a pre-dawn fire in Julia, our airtight wood-burning cook-stove, the dreams had mostly retreated to the refugium of my subliminal mind. Their evanescence caused me to recall the opening lines of last week’s post about Tom Hungerford, who lived at Light Morning for many years.

“Quite soon Tom will become one of the unremembered multitudes — a wave receding down a beach; a raindrop touching the surface of a lake; an autumn leaf falling from a family tree.”

In the same way that I have been moved to save (however briefly) some stories about Tom and Douglas and Marlene from imminent oblivion, so have a few of my strong medicine dreams found their way onto the pages of this blog. Navigational aids to the slowly growing collection can be found here.

What follows is one of my shorter strong medicine dreams. As with the others in this series, however, its shelf-life or half-life has been long. Hopefully some of you, too, may find that its medicinal qualities are still active.

* * *

Differing Perspectives on East and West
21 November 1994

Joyce and I are on a long journey. It feels as though we’ve been on the road together for ages, traveling through an unfamiliar land. It’s winter, the midday sun is low in the sky ahead of us, and we have arrived at a crossroads.

Since the next leg of our journey is to the east, I start to turn left.

“Wait a minute,” Joyce says. “We need to turn right.”

I pause to double-check my assumptions. The winter sun is ahead of us. That means we’re facing south. So in order to go east, we need to turn left.

“East is to the left,” I say.

“No,” she replies, gazing at the sun. “West is to the left. To go east, we need to turn right.”

We look at each other with mutual surprise and dismay.

Then, in a sudden flash of understanding, I see that either one of our differing perspectives on east and west could be correct. It depends on where we’re coming from. If we’re in the northern hemisphere – which is my own bone marrow set-point – and the midwinter sun is ahead of us, then east is clearly to our left. But someone from the southern hemisphere would look at the same midwinter sun and say that east is to the right.

Since the path we have been following has been long and circuitous, our gut-level assumptions about how to distinguish east from west are no longer reliable. Standing at the crossroads, we have become disoriented. We are confused about where we’re coming from and are therefore uncertain about which way to turn.

Amplifying the Dream

Joyce and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We also knew each other as children. So as the dream suggests, “It feels as though we’ve been on the road together for ages, traveling through an unfamiliar land.” In waking life, of course, the strangeness of the terrain is often obscured by a veil of familiarity.

At the time of this dream, we were about to celebrate our 25th anniversary. And soon I would embark upon my momentous first Vipassana meditation course. Part of that journey (here) was an unexpected insight into how profoundly our earliest childhood experiences had shaped both of us.

Our traveling companions often have perspectives that differ significantly from our own. Regardless of whether those differences are due to gender, race, or class, to family, politics, or ethnicity, we sometimes arrive at a crossroads where pivotal decisions must be made. The decisions can be unilateral, consensual, or somewhere in between. But choose we must.

May we be blessed with confusion and disorientation.

A New Kind of Family

Pear blossoms

[When Light Morning was an active community, those wanting to visit or intern here sometimes asked about our core values. In response, we posted three articles to an earlier version of this website: Living Close to the Earth, A New Kind of Family, and A Transformational Journey.]

In the spring of 1974, two couples arrived at an old Appalachian farm in southwest Virginia and started homesteading. Ron and Marlene and Joyce and I were passionate and vision-driven. We had just come out of a catalytic encounter with inner guidance. But we also came from significantly different backgrounds.

Joyce and I grew up in a small intentional village on the east coast. As young adults, we adopted the early hippie lifestyle of long hair, psychedelics, rock and roll, and Vietnam War protests. Ron and Marlene were raised on Wisconsin dairy farms. They came of age as straight-laced Midwesterners, never doing any drugs, ignoring the war, and becoming members of the John Birch Society.

How did two couples who would hardly have been acquaintances, let alone friends, end up spending their entire adult lives together? We later joked that it had been an arranged marriage, and we were still looking for who had arranged it. But whoever that mysterious matchmaker may have been, we were tightly bonded with a curiously durable glue.

Continue reading A New Kind of Family