Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Just across town

Traveling East to West was quite the adventure: winding along the river, skulking through a cavernous, almost deserted downtown, gliding over the underbelly splayed with tracks, asphalt piles and nameless industrial necessities, snaking up Price Hill and, eventually, landing in the ecovillage. This time, the destination outshone the journey.

I was a tag-along invitee to a little soiree of photographers, artists and writers who had each begun a book, then circulated it among the others. Some of the others live abroad, so this was only a slice of the group. This evening was a celebration of the event hosted by its creator, Suz [and her other half, Brad], and a time to peruse the books though she diligently scanned every page and posted each in its entirety online after cajoling authors and illustrators to please finish. 

My craving for creative companionship was sated sans any ego. So was my thirst for braiding the spiritual and creative. Early on, I met other labyrinth enthusiasts, discovered one in walking distance and took an after-dinner stroll into the urban woods, reminiscent of a childhood sanctuary, with a new collection of acquaintances. My prayer before entering the sacred pathway was one of gratitude for being with such eclectic, open, compassionate, creative people. 

As we sauntered back collectively, I decided to continue my jaunt on foot to the end of the ecovillage. I'd heard and read so much about this place for years, even viewed it on Google Earth, dreaming of what such a thing could be. For myself, I discovered the Enright Ecovillage to be:
• Unmanicured lawns, lacking chemical treatment, and actual vegetable gardens in plain sight, not hidden behind, tucked into every possible nook and cranny in the front yard. Tender, green-bean plants entrenched in front of porch columns, where a hedge might have been, working up the nerve to climb the strings connecting floor and roof.
• Old houses in less than pristine condition, bicycles littering lawns, teens skateboarding down the cul-de-sac, girls stacking too many derrieres on one bike seat for comfort's and safety's sake and neighbors saying hello to a stranger.
• Barrels collecting rainwater from gutters, retrofitted old houses alongside some awaiting repair, a nature conservancy and 100-acre woods surrounding the oasis, bordered by a cemetery. Lest you forget this is urban, a business district and bus stop are just around the corner.
• Meeting Nancy with a beautifully tinted McCaw named Bob on her shoulder; learning she moved from Ft. Thomas four years ago, rebuilt her aged house and couldn't be happier. Of course, she knew my Quaker friend, Deborah, who lives down the street. She also knows Luke and Angela, two streets over, who attend my Quaker meeting and run Permorganic, an Over-The-Rhine garden tended by inner-city youth.

Deborah wasn't home I later learned from raucous Nick, also a Quaker, who said she and a group were vanning it to the Friends General Conference Gathering in Colorado. Nick told hilarious stories of forcing his 12-year-old into giving him hugs at will. Funny I'd bump into another Quaker at this outing. Perhaps not. Larry and Diane were a spousal team each with a twin sister, just like me and Tad. Never encountered that before! Greg, a writer, came flanked by his teen boys and we traded stories, but he gently refused my offer to switch his boys for my girls. Lisa had soulfully penetrating eyes, yet we only had a cursory chat. Bryn and I swapped heartaches as we'd each recently lost longtime pets. Marilyn, Michael, Diane and I talked about retreats and the value of getting away. Michael cracked me up when he said he carted his son as an angry teen on retreat with him. How was it? I asked. "We had separate rooms," he responded.

I've been soooooo desiring an informal salon of creative people. I got one a few weeks ago at a Quaker mystics retreat when several of us chatted about art and spirituality and, again, at the ecovillage gathering. Lucky me!

I believe it takes getting out of our ruts, and that may mean going to the most foreign parts of town, to reignite our creativity. I'm beginning to see that, even if my neighborhood isn't an ecovillage, it's still a pretty incredible habitat with interesting, compassionate people. Something I'd lost sight of until I'd briefly left it.

• Typically, do I value: the destination or the journey?
• What have I learned when I have experienced the opposite?
• How has my thirst for a certain type of community or experience been met?
• How do I view that as a gift and give thanks?
• How can I regularly get out of my rut?

just across
town, that's

but, ohhhh,
world's away

it could have
been an ocean,
not a city
we crossed

it could have
been Greeks,
not West Widers
we met

it could have
been an island,
not an ecovillage
we visited

it could have
been days of travel,
not minutes
we endured

but the end result
is the same: a 
shift in perspective
and an appreciation
for far and near

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