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I entered Community Life in Colombia in 1973 after serving three years there in the Peace Corps; the wandering and wondering were over. There, I lived and worked in a rural setting for 17 years before coming back to live in here in the Tivoli Community. In that time I have learned many valuable things, not the least of which is that it's not so much what you do in life but rather how and with what intention you do it that makes a difference.

Digging in the Garden

Digging in the Garden

A few years ago I restarted our Community vegetable garden after a period when we had been too busy with other things to have a garden.

Since I live in a Spiritual Community, when I am gardening I tend to find metaphors between the work in the garden and my own inner work.

Some years ago our Founder, Santiago Bovisio, wrote this about the work of spiritual unfolding: “The human being’s mind runs after the vein of gold that someone claims to have discovered; it spends its vital reserves in the eager search; it falls heedlessly into illusory traps and obstinately refuses to dig in its own garden.”

I’ve never been much of a gardener, but I found a book in our library about growing vegetables using the bio-intensive method. I think this gardening method is based, in some degree, on the writings of Rudolph Steiner.

In this case, Steiner is all about digging deep.  First you go down about ten inches with a spading fork, removing that soil. You then using the spading fork to loosen the soil another ten inches below that first dig before putting the top soil back. That’s lot of digging and loosening; a lot of work.  But it’s what allows the roots to penetrate and the plant to grow and flourish.

So what’s the metaphor? One of the keys to spiritual unfolding is to know yourself and this takes time, hard work, and a persevering effort. When I began trying to do this work, I started to realize that I had spent the better part of my life putting together an image of myself that I could present both to myself and the world around me. Over time, the identification with that image of myself was complete. That’s who I was.  Or at least that’s what I wanted to think. In spiritual speak we call this the “acquired personality.”

In our Community, we have a system which includes silence, introspection, meditation, dialogue, feedback from others, and an attitude of openness to look at yourself and see what you have always tried to avoid looking at.  It isn’t a case of conventional good vs. bad.  Good, from this perspective, means becoming conscious of how you are and act, both “good” and “bad. Bad would mean not being open or accepting what you see, explaining things away or blaming others. Avoiding a truth that follows you around.

This process cracks open the myth that you’ve created, and allows you to gradually see yourself in a more open and less fearful and defensive way. Once you see clearly where you are, you can plot a course to where you would rather be.  Again, in spiritual speak, this is called “inner freedom.”

All this takes time and effort. It’s the metaphor of digging deep, loosening things up, breaking up the clumps, sifting out the rocks and other obstacles. It’s letting the air and looseness breathe life—and the ability to grow—back in. 

Maybe I’ll be able to develop these ideas a bit more in future entries but now I have weeds to pull.  But, you know, when the soil is healthy and the plants grow well, it seems that the weeds are fewer and easier to pull. . . .

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Part of our responsibility here in the Community of Tivoli is to administer and take care of the Retreat Houses.

These facilities are used by the members of Cafh that don’t live in Community as a place to host their retreats and other activities and are used throughout the summer months for this purpose.

This year some members of a group that is not affiliated with Cafh, a non-profit group called “Common Fire”, asked if they could use the space for their Board of Directors’ meeting.  Common Fire has a housing coop just down the street from us.

We have known Jeff and Kavitha, two of the directors, since they began building the coop, and on occasion have shared meals there and talked about living in “Community”.

Their original plan in using our retreat space had included  time for meet and greet between Common Fire board members and Tivoli Cafh Community members. However, since their members had come from all over the country and they had many issues to resolve in their meetings and limited time to do so, we were only able to get together for lunch on Sunday afternoon.

We all contributed different dishes to make up a buffet meal and gathered on the patio of our Community house.

It’s hard to get to know people or have a deep conversation sitting at a long table, for an hour or so, over a meal with little kids running around and in danger of falling into the pool, but it was fun and interesting and enjoyable.

At some point I sat down next to Kavitha. She remarked that she found it very inspiring that some of us had lived in Community for 40 years. This was refreshing to me because although in general, most people respect the Community members as individuals, they tend to see living in a Community as a bit “weird”. 

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Diana S
I agree with Kavitha that to see a long life of commitment is inspiring. To see someone's life unfold and become the fruit of his... Read More
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
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