Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ancestral Dreaming

I am in Essen, where my great grandmother was born and buried. I am comfortable and uncomfortable, staying with relatives and struggling to be open to their generosity. The family is sweet, so sweet. They have given me a room for these days, with its own entrance and a key. I dream there, praying each night to strengthen my connection to this place. The first night I dreamt of home, of my people moving north, of the cold and of love. My dreams are full of love, birth and death, and I am grateful for their strength and memory.

Yesterday I visited the Dom in Koln, or the Cathedral of Cologne, with two relatives, Uschi and Laura. It was really amazing--- began in the 1400s, and it took centuries to build. I was awed by the size and design, reverent to the work and dedication. Later, at the Holocaust museum, I saw photos of the city in ruins all around while the Cathedral stood unscathed.

We visited the museum of the Gestapo, and I was deeply moved. The museum was recently opened, as the people don’t seem to want to remember the dark days. This was the first my relatives, one 20 and other in her 50s, had ever come into contact with anything related to the Nazis. We saw the prison cells which were overcrowded with people from all over Europe, and we sat in a memorial space while names were displayed and stories told. “..died 1943, in Auschwitz, persecuted for being a Jew.” Laura led me to a particularly ´scary´place, a small dark cell, used for isolation, interrogation, and abuse. I felt a deep pain there, and it moved through my whole body and lingered, sour for hours.

The site is special in that the basement was untouched until the museum opened, and thousands of messages and drawings were left scratched into the walls. There were expressions of hope, longing, fear, despair, and anger. I was so moved by it, especially the beauty that came through a time of such unknown misery.

Love is a present of nature on the whole world,

and without it one cannot live.

All people live from love,

allow, life to love you, too.

-Volodza und Nadza, Russian

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I have arrived in Germany! I am currently at the ecovillage Sieben Linden, where I will be working for two weeks. The community is a model of sustainability. They are working hard to create viable sustainable social, environmental and agricultural systems. The community members have the opportunity to live in 'neighborhoods', small community groups within the larger community that live in large homes together. These neighborhoods have distinct cultures and values. In coming together they decide how they want to live, make agreements, and create their home based on their needs. Each new house is an evolution from the last, looking towards the most environmentally sustainable building possible. One home has a spiral design--- only the central room is heated and the heat radiates to the rest of the house.

One of the neighborhoods, Club 99, is known for being very ecological. They built their main community house without any machinery, using materials that come from the land and recycled waste. Their home took five years to build, as they split each beam and log by hand saw. It is a wooden frame with straw bale walls and is truly a piece of art. This house is used for communal activities only, and members live in other homes. Their second building project was a straw bale home, and for this they decided to use machinery as the members began to work in other areas. They work with horses, to pull wood and plow the garden.

I am part of the 'international experience week', a week long service opportunity and introduction to the community. My group is cleaning up the construction zone of the newest neighborhood. Yesterday we planted a hedge on the property border, transplanting native bushes from their winter nursery. Today we are busy moving a wood pile, deconstructing and re-building the wood shed in a new location.

My time at Findhorn ended strong, with a beautiful week on the Island retreat of Erraid and a way of Council Training back at the park.

The Isle of Erraid is a small island of granite in Western Scotland. It is an elemental place, exposed to the winds, tides and rain. This was our last week together before we separated for our independent study time, and we took the opportunity to be on retreat together, meditating and meeting daily to process our journey thus far and prepare for the time ahead.

I just finished a 'Nature of Council' for Findhornians, working with Will as an intern and support for Gigi. The training was wonderful, integrating experiences in nature and the practice of deep listening and speaking from the heart. It was a great learning experience, continually pushing me to my edge. Feeling full of gratitude for opportunities to grow, I am so thankful for the opportunities for continual learning. I love finding myself in truly uncomfortable situations, realizing I chose to bring myself fully into the practice of stretching my limits, stretching beyond boundaries.