I don’t have adequate words to describe the last 3 weeks of my life.  Extraordinary.  Other-worldly.  Transformative…  these don’t even come close.

I went to the Rainbow Gathering last month, in the mountains of West Virginia.  Thousands of people (at least 15,000 at the peak, I’ve heard) camping together and sharing food and responsibility with no exchange of money.  Everything happens through gift or barter, and all food is available to anyone for free.  I was there for 5 days, though the gathering lasts for about a month.  There was the typical drumming and dancing of any hippie festival, along with a multitude of kitchens cooking food for every meal, a yoga meadow, a kid’s village, and a trading avenue where folks with things to trade laid out their wares on blankets along the edge of the path.  People traded jewelry, clothes, medicine, tools, stones, and art.  I brought along some of my old jewelry and traded for a necklace and homemade pants for 3 yr old Willow (Pax’s son), and a hair wrap, a necklace, and a ring for myself.  I love the idea of moving out the old clutter of my life, passing the energy on to other people to enjoy, and creating opportunity for new things to come in to my world.  The ring that I traded for is wildly significant to me, and I’m wearing it every day.  The jingle of the bells on the end of my hair wrap (colored embroidery thread wound around a section of my hair) remind me constantly to relax and enjoy the moment, remembering the magic of the Rainbow Gathering.  Folks there call everyone “sister” or “brother”, and though at first it felt silly and cliched, I grew to love it as a reminder of our connectedness in the human family.

praying for peace on July 4

After Rainbow, I came back to Twin Oaks for two days and then headed off to “Summer Camp“, an event created by the Network For New Culture.  This 10 day event focused on intimacy and deepening relationships with ourselves and other people.  I originally planned to go because I had been invited to present a workshop on sensuality (“Living a Sensual Life” — it’s all about awareness and communication).  I was expecting to enjoy myself, have fun, and maybe learn some new things.  I wasn’t expecting a spiritually transformative experience, and it snuck up on me and bit me in the ass.  All of the workshops were designed to give people the opportunity to open themselves and explore their masks and fears… and then share their discoveries with the rest of the people there (a small community of about 40 people).  I’ve never been in a place where the collective goal is to express and honor what’s most authentic, even when it’s hard.  The depth of connection that forms out of this is incredible.  This event reminded me that connection and love are what I’m seeking with everyone I interact with, no matter what the nature of the interaction.  In a conflict, I’m seeking connection and love.  In a standard social script with the person behind the cash register, I’m seeking connection and love.  With all my co-communards, I’m seeking connection and love.  Nothing more, nothing else.

And now I’m back on the commune, and I’m trying to fit my daily life to this newly refreshed awareness.  I’m tempted to give in to the gravity of old habits, and when I notice myself doing that I find myself missing the richness I felt at Summer Camp and Rainbow.   So I breathe, take in the moment through all my senses (that’s the core of sensuality!), and remember to love.