Protecting the questions and living into the answers

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve spent my whole life listening to people giving me the answers. Parents, education… college… grad school, books, television, friends, government, the news, church, Google… the list goes on and on. Answers, answers, answers. Everyone is right and everyone else is wrong. Hmmm… It’s easy. Slick. Comfortable. Quantifiable… to have the answers. We can put everything (God, people, ourselves) in a box and move on. It’s easier for us to have fun, relax, and worry about nothing but our own worlds when we can explain everything away. Ahhh… peace at last.

The only problem, though, is the thought that I am right and everyone else who disagrees must therefore be wrong. We are, from this point on, isolated into communities who think only the same as I do. There is no unity… only a cordial (or not-so-cordial) “agreeing to disagree.” Well, I have quickly tired of this way of being… this divider of community. My sincere hope is to bring people together to truly be in community even while we think differently about things… even while we can honestly say “I don’t know.” To do this, I will hereby be a Protector of the QUESTION.

To protect the questions, we must know that it is here, in the questions, that we can truly and always unite. No matter where our stories have taken us, it is the questions that are universal.

“What does it mean to belong?” “Who is in control and why does it matter? How much control do I have?” “Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life?” “What is the lonely for?” “How much stuff is enough?” “What does it mean to be a man.woman.mother.father.son.daughter?”

These questions, and so many more, are the questions that bring us together. When we begin to “love the questions themselves,” we are able to learn from each other, not fix or correct each other. It is then that life guides us into the answers… something that will not happen if we cannot begin to love the questions. This is why I will continue to protect them for you… and ask you to join me. We need more protectors of the question… then we will be able to live into the answers together.

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Focusing the blog… my four pillars

The blog has gotten a little make-over… updated and focused. The main change has to do with the addition of my four main areas of focus for my part in bridgeWorks and my own personal practice of connecting men and women into communities where they can explore their souls and their connection with God. I know that when I am addressing these four areas, I am on the right path and focusing correctly on things that are worthwhile for building sustainability.

With that, here are the four community rhythms I focus on, shared practices… ongoing and open to all. Conscious Cooperation of Collective Imagination REQUIRED.

Check out the separate pages for each…. hopefully they’ll be updated regularly.

An effort in village practice…

Dear community of Bend,
In an effort to begin uniting communities within Bend in ways that support sustainability and partnering in life.village practice, I am attempting to begin two community “services.”

One will be a tool.appliance library
which will be focused on giving good use to the tools and appliances that we own and sharing them with each other. This way those who are not able to afford certain items, or are simply in need of a one-time use item can contact you and borrow your available item.

If you are interested in this please send me the following information:

  • Name and phone number and email
  • Items you are willing to enter into the “library” (vacuum, washing and drying machines, lawn mower, coffee pot, garden hose, etc… the list can be as wide of variety as you are willing to offer)


The second “service” is a ability.service library. The focus here will be on individuals or families offering what they like to do as something they are willing to “trade” or offer to the community. As we develop a substantial number of people interested, people will be able to trade one service or action for another. We will create a database of services that are offered by the community that people can access if they have a need.


If this is something that you are interested in please send me the following:

  • Name and phone number and email
  • Services or activities that you are willing to offer (cooking bread or meals, making kombucha, beer brewing, cleaning, physical labor, yard work, car work, bike work, babysitting, massage, making clothing, etc… this list can be as wide of variety as you are able to creatively imagine)

Mandala Yoga community (myc) and myself (through bridgeWorks, the non-profit i work for) will be the hub.connecting pieces to make the exchanges happen or send people in the right direction. If the list gets big enough, I will send out the information to all the leaders of the various communities so that each of us has a list of who is offering what.

My hope with this “service” is to give people the opportunity to connect with each other in relational ways and not feel the need to pay money for things they need. Also, my hope is that we might use what we have rather than feel the need to go out and buy something that we will only use a couple of times. It will be up to those involved in the interaction to settle on a trade that will be of value.

Please let me know as soon as you can as to what you are willing to offer.

Hope for sustainable community and closer connections,

Nate

Keeping the garden of community

There’s something about building community and organizations that gets very challenging for us radical and imaginative visionaries… that being tendency to dream more than grow. We plant and plant and plant… a seed here, a row there. Then we get thinking about what seeds we might plant next. Sometimes we plant them and sometimes we don’t. Then we get thinking about the amazing tree that we might grow in our garden. We look up at the clouds imagining how wonderful it will be to see the sky through thick green branches. While we are looking up at the sky we forget about the things we have planted already… we might even step on a few of our new, potentially beautiful trees and flowers. In our effort to plant more, we forget to fertilize and water what we’ve already planted. Our plants grow small if they grow at all.

desert plant

This, my visionary friends, is not wise gardening. I would think that planting some things that will last year after year with very little upkeep would be the way to go. Once they are well established, we have a foundation from which to work from. But we have to take care of them first. Plants, and communities, are fragile in the beginning.

We so often travel away from our garden… to get fresh ideas, to see other people’s gardens that they are building, to dream and fuel our imagination. But too much time away gets us thinking about the things we don’t have yet. It’s like window shopping for things that you might possibly “need.” We don’t have a list of what we need because we have everything we need, but going out to check out everyone else’s stuff, makes us come up with a list of all kinds of things that we want and “need.” Wouldn’t it be better to study long and hard the few things that we are growing now, so that we can do them well? Wouldn’t it makes sense to talk to those who have done before what we want to do now, so that we don’t make the easy mistakes? Is it really helpful to go out looking for more wild ideas when every time we return, half of our plants have died from neglect?

Another tricky thing about growing community is that we are fed and encouraged very healthily by other visionaries and radical thinkers. Many of those we come across are “doing it.” They have their system figured out. What they touch turns to gold. We want to learn from them, but we also want to be on the same page as them. We want to match their ideas and innovation so that we don’t look bad or inferior. We lose our groundedness in this, though, as we are dishonest (mostly with ourselves) in regards to what our garden needs. If we are growing something and it needs to be watered and taken care of, we had better learn how to prioritize our time and when it is the right time to start something new.

Get your hands dirty, folks. Get down there at the ground level and spend some time there. Get to know your plants and what they need, or you are never going to be able to get the next thing going either.

Oppression is not gender-based or race-based…

I’ve been reading, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, by Bill Plotkin. This very well could be a handbook for the future of community growth models and life stages of transformation… so appropriate for our time. Plotkin’s premise focuses on stages of development that are uniquely tied to our relationship with all things on this Earth. He sees our culture as very much stuck in a “path-adolescence,” mainly because we have not figured out yet how to appropriately deal with adolescence itself… which he says is the most important period in current humanity’s life cycle.

I greatly appreciate what Plotkin writes in regards to the gender-neutrality of the life stages of community. The starkest differences

between masculine and feminine are greatest in early adolescence (stage 3 [of 8!]). Because this is the stage in which Western societies have stalled, and because our societies are not informed by the deep structure of human development, gender differences have seemed bigger and more definitive to us than they really are.

With the social advances brought by feminism in the late twentieth century, some have contended that healthy female development differs from that of male development, and that the imposition of male patterns on women continues the centuries-old oppression by the patriarchy. While I agree, my perspective is somewhat different. There is no question that women have been economically, educationally, and politically oppressed in patriarchal societies (as have most minority and lower-class men), but both men and women have been cut off from soul and nature, and both have consequently faced great difficulties in maturing. Although healthy female development is different from patho-adolescent masculine development, this is equally true for healthy male development.

The essential issue concerning oppression is not gender-based or race-based but ego-centric versus soulcentric. In my view, the core problem with patriarchal (and matriarchal) societies is their patho-adolescent egocentrism, which generates economic-class oppression, not their conspicuous suppression of the feminine or glorification of the (immature) masculine. Men have no monopoly on egocentrism. Men and masculinity are no more the problem than are women and femininity. I believe that most people would agree that we will not create a healthier society by affording women the equal right to be as pathologically egocentric as a large proportion of men have been for millennia, to acquire the equal opportunity to excel in the patho-adolescent, class-dividing world of prestige, position, and wealth, academic and corporate ladder-climbing, and power broking. Rather, mature men and women must join together to foster soulcentric development for both genders and for all races and cultures. (25) (Italics mine)