Inspiration from a random moment – Tales from the Trail Part II

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I am reminiscing tonight about all things Rainbow. It was a glorious time, truly, and an experience I will never forget, those days at Rainbow Gathering. Tonight C was in my heart and I thought of the sweet young man, not a kid really, but at least 3 decades younger than I. I had seen C hanging out at Jesus Kitchen for a couple of days in a row, this kid of a man, tall and straight with the nicest smile and the most liquid honey-filled eyes.

 

Finally, after the hustle of filtering water that some kind soul had carried up the hill in a 5 gallon jug, I went to the campfire to sit a spell and there C was, eating some breakfast and looking somewhat pensive.

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One always wonders if they should jump in when someone’s pensive, at least this one wonders: leave them to their thoughts or get sociable? Will they share? Will it make a difference? Are you interrupting? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Interrupting Cow. Mooooo – you know the joke.

 

But those decades have taught me something and he was a kind, young man and so we began to talk. Turns out we had a lot in common, mainly a guy named Jesus, whom we both knew by name, and that’s always a fun place to share from. I like to listen to my heart when someone is sharing theirs because sometimes, just sometimes, thoughts, feelings or words “pop” in and I have learned it’s kind of important to share these seemingly random things because they aren’t so random.

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So at an somewhat appropriate moment, I asked if I could share, wanting the okay of this dignified young man, and since it was going to be, kind of, you know, random. He gave the okay and I blurted out, “I see a purity in your eyes.” I watched as, like an arrow, the words went straight to his heart and tears sprang forth. This is how you know it’s not just you, it’s not just random and the words were given to accomplish a holy purpose.

 

Turns out his grandfather had quite the opinion about the Rainbow Festival, though grandpa had never been there, and it wasn’t really all that grand. C used the word, “evil”, which sounded really harsh to me, but who was I to judge? But it had hurt C’s heart, I think, to feel so pulled to a place, for whatever reason, and have the intent of his heart so misjudged by someone he obviously cared for. At least that was my take on it. So I guess purity was an affirmation to C that he needed to hear.

 

I ran into C a lot over the next few days as he came and went. I truly don’t know what his mission was or reason for his being at the Rainbow Gathering. That wasn’t mine to know. I hope he went home and had stories to share with his grandfather. Stories that blessed grandpa and showed him a little more than the judgment he had moved in that had wounded a precious grandson. Stories that clearly showed the motivation of C’s heart and helped grandfather see the purity in those liquid honey-filled eyes.

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A Dred-full Day!

 

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Well, this is going to be a bit of shocker for some people (like my extended family), but yesterday I started the journey into dreds. Yep, all 55 years of me. It’s been brewing a couple of years – this thought that I needed to get dreds. Now I am counting that thought as divinely-inspired and straight-from-the-throne-room as dreds are about the last thing I would ever spend my money on.

But after chewing on it, like a cow with a cud, two years later I have spit it back up and dreds it is.

It did make a whole lot more sense to me as I felt so called to the Rainbow Gathering where there’s a whole lot of dreds going on. But in my own eyes, and in the perceptions of the world, this is not who I have been or am. I mean sure, crunchy momma tendencies (just ask my kiddos) but my view of myself has been far more suburban momma with a bit of religious crunchy thrown in and dreds are not part of that m.o.  At least in my brain.

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Evidence “A” for Suburban Mom status

I’ve been pondering, in the three weeks since I have pursued this decision, and what I have come to realize is that much of this is going to be a humbling experience.   Humbling me. Humbling my pride in who I think I am, how far I think I have come and where I think I am going. That kind of humbling ~ the best kind of humbling I think. Stripping any pride I have in my wonderfully wavy hair, the way I am perceived by those around me, the way I have, frankly, used those perceptions to work for me and for my best interests. Oh it’s an ugly can of worms I’ve uncovered as I have chewed this cud.

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Whole lotta grey going on here ~ more than I realized, lol!

So yesterday I sat in a backyard, a neighbor’s pool area and next to a river, for hours, while a sweet new friend put this formerly pretty mop into dreds. And you know what, the humbling already has begun. I frankly look like Pippy Longstocking, only older. It’s messy and I was hoping it would be somewhat stylish in some way. It’s not. It’s going to take a few months, says my new friend, before they lock in and look more like dreds. My young man advised me this morning to cut them off. But I’m too cheap for that. I paid good money to look like Old Pippy here and so I move forward.

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How I envisioned it would look.  (Sorry no idea what website I pulled this from.)

Not sure where this all ends up, but I’ll shoot a few photos now and again and keep you posted on this new epic journey. I am also going to see how perceptions change, my own and maybe even others, and I’ll dialogue about that too.

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 Dreds day 1. Pippy indeed!

As my young man summed it up yesterday, “My mom has done some crazy things, but this is the craziest of them all!” That may be, but in the end, I am still his mom. Nothing changed there.

Did I really just book a flight to Ecuador?!?

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The beautiful Ecuadorian countryside on the way from Guaranda to Chillanes.

I’ve spent the entire day in disbelief that this is really, finally happening. Have you ever been double-minded like that? On the one hand saying, “Yes, God” but maybe at some deep level giving yourself an out so if it doesn’t come to be you can deal with it? So the day has been spent saying, “OH MY GOSH, WE ARE GOING TO ECUADOR!!” And wondering how God is going to show up to pull the rest of it together. Because He’s got to show up.  We’ve booked the flight and the rest is our faith journey.

The young man (man child has become a teen and so the old moniker doesn’t quite work, hence the new one) is going with me and is VERY EXCITED.  I am VERY EXCITED to share his first out of the U.S. of A. experience with him.  (Well, except for Canada, but that’s U.S. of A. North, or at least it seems that way.)

I remember my first few weeks after arriving to spend a few months in Mexico City.  (That was over 30 years ago but feels just like yesterday.)  The adjustment was tough.  I had had three years in university-level Spanish and had a piece of paper showing I was qualified to speak it, but as that first actual question came as I arrived, “De parte de quien?”  I had zero idea what was being asked so I kind of clued in that this transition wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it might be.

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Lunch is served!  Thank goodness the young man now eats rice.

Then there was the food.  So different that anything I had ever experienced.  I had a list of everything I wasn’t supposed to eat (lettuce, watermelon, etc.) and really didn’t eat a lot of anything.  I lost a lot of weight.  Then I discovered Sugus, a chewy candy, and food kind of stabilized, filled-in with a lot of candy.

So that’s where my head is today — trying to think through and troubleshoot some of the issues you might have with a 13 year old who has only become a more adventurous eater in the last couple of years and has zero clue about the whole new reality he is about to enter in to.   I think this is going to be a life-changer for him; I know it was for me.

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Grazing next year’s food by the side of the road.

We leave in about a month.  We have no set plans other than some initial time in Quito and then striking out from there.  I have NO IDEA how one navigates hotels and hostels when you don’t EVEN HAVE ACCESS TO WIFI as you move through life.  GPS Navigation?  Forget about it.  I mean, I have visited Ecuador so I somewhat know what we’ll be facing, especially outside of the cities.  But very quickly here I have grown accustomed to face life’s uncertainties armed with a smartphone and a Google app and now that crutch will be entirely taken away.

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The beautiful city of Guaranda, Ecuador.

Follow our journey on Instagram.  We’ll crosspost to Facebook.  I’ll get on the blog if I can (but won’t be taking my computer and it’s a lot of weight in our backpack and a worry in my head).  Instagram is @thisepicjourney.  Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/This-Epic-Journey-1517863695115729/?fref=ts.  I’ve also got a page about the journey with a little of the story at https://www.facebook.com/groups/616039435213645/.  The posts will happen as we trip across wifi.

Say a prayer for us if you are the praying sort.  I’ll need direction in a country still torn, in many ways, from the large earthquake this spring and the many temblors that have since followed.  We’ll be okay, I know, as I am so confidant we are following a larger plan in all of this.  We’ll come back changed, and confidant, and more faith-filled and my young man will soar in so many ways.

Ya know, one month can’t come soon enough for all that promise.

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A homestead in the highlands.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match!

 

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The site of the 2016 Rainbow Gathering in the Vermont mountains.

Did I mention I have become the matchmaker for a sweet Jewish male, 40-ish, whom I met at the Rainbow Gathering? Truly, all things are possible. It’s a magical kinda-place, a Rainbow Gathering, where conventional rules seem to be forgotten. Barter is favored as no money changes hands; meals are free if you are hungry and your needs seem to be supplied, even from those around you who will give all they have if you need it. Or so it seemed to me.

 

I found myself “stuck” during a driving rainstorm, under some tarps and around a blazing fire at Home Shalom, one of the two Jewish camps at the Rainbow Gathering. We had gone to visit, and then the rain had started and my friend and I found ourselves without ponchos or umbrellas as a sea of mud started to form in the hours and hours of rain that was to follow.

 

We were welcomed, oh so welcomed, and loved, oh so loved, us two women huddled in their camp chairs hoping to soak up some warmth. Meanwhile, folks cooked and as the rain continued and my tummy rumbled, I willed the nourishing food to hurry up so I could put in where it belonged and stop the hunger. Sure enough, a while later we were ushered to the feast and ate our fill of baked eggplant, cooked garbanzo beans, tzatziki and other yummy things all piled onto our bliss, which was the one thing I did think to bring. (Bliss being the Rainbow name for something to eat from.) Not knowing I would end up away from camp for hours, I had given my water to someone on the trail who had asked, but filtered water was there and after finishing my meal, I used my plate to drink some. Ah, bliss indeed.

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Shortly after, Shabbat started, a wonderful singing time of joy and celebration and all gathered began to celebrate together – reformed Jews, Orthodox Jews, Hasidic Jews, Gentiles and everyone else who stumbled into camp to escape the deluge. The sounds of Shabbat brought many in from the trail and out of the woods – and I watched as person after person celebrated Shabbat. We danced around the fire celebrating a God who loves us. It continued for hours. I was fascinated to see the men taking the lead in this celebration, and realized how much we’ve missed it in Christianity where we are all restrained and pent up and feel self-conscious as we raise our hand to worship our God. Oh that my Christian brothers would celebrate God as these men did.

 

I met Wilson just before Shabbat, I think, or maybe it was during.  I don’t remember. We talked, he explained, and we enjoyed the company. Two days later I ran into him again on the trail and we talked for a long, long time. It was then I became a matchmaker. I think of the song from the movie, Fiddler on the Roof, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make me a Match” mashing with Beyoncé’s “All you Single Ladies”. Anything can happen at a Rainbow Gathering.

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So all you single ladies – Wilson is looking for you. Late 20’s through the 30’s preferably. Jewish currently or willing to convert. Home-oriented. His offer is stable, kind and Jewish male. Self-employed and pilots planes for fun. Currently in New York but willing to relocate – maybe Texas, possibly Florida. Lots of brothers and sisters, more than a dozen dearly loved nephews & nieces. I am not sure why this man is not married. Maybe his dreams stretch so much further than the area he lives in. He believes it the will of God we met. Somehow so do I.

Welcome Home! Of a different variety.

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Sweet home Indiana!  After 13 days and numerous van issues (transmission fun) it was without a doubt, a great joy to enter into Indiana.  For the first time in a long time, I return filled with joy & hope, knowing without a doubt the way forward into the future and why I am situated where I am at this point in my life.

Does leaving all that you have and stepping into an alternate reality like the Rainbow Gathering morph out to create waves into your own life?  It cannot help but do so.  I don’t think I have EVER been so grateful for hot showers, warm beds, washing machines, toilets that flush (and aren’t in the ground) and all those creature comforts we Americans take for granted.  Running water!  How could I forget that!  But beyond creature comforts, for me, the Gathering has helped coalesce and focus a whole host of things to point me in a direction from which there is no return.

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After 6 days in the woods, this was a glorious site to see!  Hotel toilet.

 

Look for more posts in the days ahead.  In the meantime, you’ll notice our tag line has changed – the man child leaves “tween” behind to enter “teen” this next week.  I made it home for that big event (Thank you God!) and Monday we begin the celebration of him and his moving from man child to man teen?  Man-in-training?  Man of the moment?  I don’t know.  I’ll give it some thought.  Man child is growing up, as we all are, and after so many events in this last week, which only appeared on my radar well after they occurred, I am going to celebrate his coming of age at such a time as this and all that is planned for his sweet life.

Celebrate with us folks!  Celebrate life!  Celebrate toilets!  Choose gratitude today.  What do you have in your life that you are thankful for?  I know for many, life is hard and filled with tough choices.  But I challenge you to choose just one thing today to celebrate with a sense of gratitude.

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Tales from the trail – Part 1

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I am sharing my tales from the trail, to tell you of the deep, deep impact this event had on my life, not to begin a discussion or deep dialogue on rights or wrongs, and how those things play out. I am not a theologian but a lover of all people and seek to learn to love more as I walk through this life. As such, if you would like to comment, please do. But hurtful comments that divide us rather than help us unite and walk in love will be excluded from publication. Please understand that there are other sites willing to discuss those things. This story exists solely to share about the Rainbow People and my visit to them and to help others, especially my Christian brothers & sisters, perhaps understand a world so different than their own.

 

I have just returned from the Annual Rainbow Gathering held in the hills of Vermont. I was a Rainbow “virgin” and have come out a much different person than I went in.

I worked with a group called Jesus Kitchen, serving food, filtered water and coffee to those at the gathering – Jesus believers or not – and listening to stories, oh so many stories, shared around the circle we sat at morning, noon and night.

One of the most impactful, to me, was that of P. The day after I arrived, I heard P call out from our steps (we were situated up the side of a hill), “Can a pagan transgender come into the camp?” This alone broke my heart. That any one of God’s children would feel excluded in our camp or not welcome to come to the circle of light and love made me sad.

We ushered P in and she sat down and began to share her story with all of us – unbidden but welcomed, as all stories were welcomed. It was a tale of hurt and heartbreak involving things that couldn’t even be told as we had children in the circle. Most disturbing to me was that the horrible things P had suffered had been in a church. Things you don’t mention when children are present. Things that make scars run deep and pain stay fresh.

P asked to share a song. Music, P said, was what got her through the tough times. One song after another followed, and, at the end, three beautiful hymns were sung – tender and filled with emotion. My eyes were not dry.

After, P began to talk of the things of God. Scripture was not unknown to this pagan gentle person and she told stories of sharing the word on the streets of New Orleans with street preachers and many asking in that city how a pagan could share the word of God.

Anomalies run deep, don’t they? I don’t use that phrase as if P were the anomaly. The situation was that thing. Sitting in a circle of love and light listening to the resonating word of God from one so judged and considered by some not worthy to deliver it.

P did not return to Jesus Kitchen, at least when I was there. But I saw P on my last day of the Rainbow Gathering, dressed this time in the opposite persona. He was preparing to play an instrument and share of that deep love of music with yet another crowd.

 

‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Luke 14:21b – 22 NKJV

 

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All names have been changed to protect the identity of the person involved as my heart to is protect their dignity. If I have failed to do that in any way, please forgive me. The failing is mine.