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Springtime in Missouri never fails to amaze me. The lush vibrant greening of the world, the sweet scent of honey locust blossoms drifting on the breeze, and the incredible diversity of song birds lighting up each morning with their color and song; this truly feels like God’s own country.
Cob here, enjoying this moment of relative quiet between visitor groups to reflect on the past few weeks and share them with you. This is one of the many things I love about living at Dancing Rabbit the sharing! Our lives aren’t all sunshine and roses of course, but sharing our stories and experiences contribute to a larger sense of purpose and it sparks joy to watch folks take our hard-learned lessons and get excited about making changes in their own lives, wherever they call home.
This past weekend we hosted a diverse group of people who are interested in learning more about what it’s like to live in an intentional community, and how to reduce their own environmental impacts. Many new connections and friendships were formed over the weekend, and we look forward to many folks returning later this season.
Speaking of returnings, the intrepid international hikers who have been walking around Spain, Portugal, and Morocco will be coming home this week, just in time to jump back into their usual roles for our next big visitor program. Their homecoming will help fill out the team, and make supporting our visitors so much easier! But I was going to focus on this moment of calm.
It’s easy for me to skip paying much attention to the news when daily life is so busy, and without those distractions, the emotional impact of the many recent mass shootings in this country, the ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, and the blatant self-serving abuse of power and erosion of rule of law by a significant faction of our nation’s leaders has hit pretty hard. It is clear that we have our work cut out for us: improving communication skills, engaging in conflict resolution, teaching folks how to build bridges with each other rather than digging deeper divides.
These precious days of an open calendar also allow so much possibility for moments of relaxation mixed with catching up on chores (fold laundry, anyone?) and spending time with friends without any agendas or task lists to work through. A highlight of my week is hosting the local bridge club, inviting neighbors Angela Neese, Pat Wiggins, and Barbara Campbell out for an afternoon of cards, laughter, and many snacks.
For those who aren’t familiar with the game, you evaluate the hand you’ve been dealt and communicate (clearly and truthfully) with your partner, to determine the appropriate bid to make (the number of tricks you believe you can take and in which suit), while the other team does the same. Then you play out the hand, tracking as many variables as possible in the hopes of meeting or exceeding your bid. Sometimes I’m too optimistic and fall short, but sometimes the cards align and I do far better than I’d hoped. There are any number of metaphors for life here, but the key elements for me are to strive for clear communication, build trust, and work together to make the most of what you have been given.
That work is a key piece of what my chosen community is all about. We’re not perfect of course, but we’re trying, and hopefully each improving in our own way, strengthening the resilience of the whole. So despite the heartache in the news, I find hope in the many visitors who come here to learn more about what we’re doing in our corner of the prairie. Reducing humanity’s ecological impact is urgently necessary, but that cannot or will not be achieved at the scale required without the equally important work of improving how we resolve our differences and get along with each other.
Meanwhile in this moment, I keep getting distracted by the many different hummingbirds who visit my coral bells and columbine blossoms, reminding me that in the words of singer Tracy Chapman, “heaven’s here on Earth.” May we together find the strength and endurance to keep it so.
Cob Carleton has lived at DR for 15 years and raised three kids here. He has about as many irons in the fire to keep this village moving forward as just about anyone here. One of those irons is managing our visitor programs. Thank you for that, Cob! For information about upcoming visitor programs, ecovillage experience weekends, or natural building workshops, see our website at: www.dancingrabbit.org.