above print available here
We live in a neighborhood where we know our neighbors. Our children have friends to play with next door. When we need a truck to haul stuff, we check in with Ron who lives near the park. When we go on our family vacation next week Eric around the corner on Hope street will be feeding and watering the rabbits and chickens. (Our daughter Dove just did the same for Eric's rabbit and chickens last week.) Dave and Barb live around the other corner. I sang at their wedding over twenty years ago.
I believe not owning a car for the last six years has forced a certain kind of radical localness to our lives that has made our neighborhood more potent and alive. It has enabled us to cultivate a community that is in walking distance.
Wendall Berry has this to say,
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
Here daughter Pearl lays in a bed of Purple Archangel which is a very common wild plant in Michigan. It is also a wild edible. Wickipedia has this to say; Young plants have edible tops and leaves, good in salads or in stirfry as a spring vegetable. If finely chopped it can also be used in sauces, but there is little to recommend about its flavour. I ate some this morning plain out of the garden and it is a very mild green with a kind of fuzzy texture. It never fails to amaze me how much food grows all about us that we are totally oblivious to. We really need to begin to think beyond the grocery store.
This is the first time Pearl has created a video that speaks. She has also graduated from iMovie up to Final Cut Pro editing software which gives her a whole new world of options. I watched through a bunch of her films this morning and it is really cool to see her style developing.
(You should know that the music in this video is a new music project called Broken Orchestra which is our family band featuring Brenda on clarinet, Bear on tamborine, Pearl's whistle and me on guitar and mouth harp.)
We are continuing to prepare for our Spring Family Art Show with all the resources we have at our disposal. This video is us casting our vision and extending the invitation to you. We are still learning what it means to be a family working together. We are attempting to recreate ourselves over and over.
This drawing availble here.
I have been stacking houses in my drawings for a while now. The broken ladder has only recently entered the stage. I am not exactly sure what the broken ladder may refer to. I think of Jacobs' ladder in the story from the bible as a symbol of the connection between heaven and earth. The ladder becomes a symbol of our desire to connect with a spiritual reality.
The houses have to do with shelter. They seem to represent the place we choose to live our lives. Multiple houses point towards a village or city. The village is the place people collect together and it is here we have the potential to create environments that help us live out the full potential of or lives.
The broken rungs of the ladder may have to do with the brokenness we each have in our lives that can inhibit our ability to reach out beyond our own place where we feel safe and protected. The truth is we must reach out again and again inspite of our fear of rejection for these places where we live to become actualized. We must reach out again and again for these places to become living, organic communities where we can find healing and meaning within the relationships that grow strong there.
Making time for neighbors is worth it. Cultivating the friendships we can have right on our own block is good for the environment because you don't need to drive your car to see them. You can just walk on over. It is that simple. And as simple as that may seem it often never happens. There can be a person dying of loneliness right next door and the help that is twenty footsteps never comes. We can cultivate relationships through our computers on the other side of the world while the people next door remain almost total strangers. Why?
Last night our friends Barb and Dave had a hot dog roast in their back yard. We ate and talked around the fire while the smoke took turns going into different peoples faces. There was good ideas shared and catching up on news as well as reports from what our various Thanksgiving times with family had been like. It felt really good to have that time last night with our friends right around the corner from our house.
We have a potluck at in our home every Sunday night beginning at 5:30 that finishes up between 8 and 9PM. It is one way we have found to kindle relationships with our neighbors. Little children are often part of the mix as they were last night playing hide and seek in the garden.
"apples, peaches, pumpkin pie, if you're not ready holler I"
There is something really good about sitting around a table eating with family and friends. Shared meals knit people together. When people feel safe they often begin to open up the parts of their lives that are more private and typically protected. Whenever this happens you know you are on holy ground. I really think it is in these vulnerable moments that relationships drop down to the deeper levels where healing and growth become possible.
If you live in our neighborhood, you are welcome to stop by with a dish to pass on a Sunday night around 5:30pm. If you live somewhere else maybe you would like to start a potluck gathering for your neighborhood and see what happens.
What does it mean to be truly alive? Can we become more alive and if so how?
I believe it is important that you find out who you are and what you are supposed to be doing regardless of the cost because only then will you be really living. In fact you living out your true calling is going to help me do the same.
Just imagine a strong network of friends all around you where each person is fully engaged with the work and play that they were designed and destined for. Try to visualize what that would be like and the momentum that could have for not only you and your close friends but for your neighborhood and village.
Living with real art is one way we are able to open up to more of who we are because good art leads to contemplation and contemplation leads to revelation and revelation opens us up to God who is the fire under the pot of everything that is really cooking.