Village Life

I have read, listened to and loved the words of many indigenous teachers, and it can be difficult when I want to quote one and can’t remember who said it. Now is such a moment. One of them pointed out that in earlier cultures houses were built to last about 5 years; built of such things as mud and grass and dung and thatch. When it was time for the home to be rebuilt the whole village would step in and help. Someone’s house always needed rebuilding, and in getting that done the bonds of the community were strengthened. This teacher pointed out that now we have learned how to build houses that last, but relationships disintegrate.

Some great friends in Asheville have just built a new home, and had the wisdom to call on friends to come help along the way. Today I went to help paint. For hours we worked in a small space, and talked and talked and talked. The luxury of such long conversations is so rare unless there is such work to be done; otherwise our “schedules” are too full.

Conversation is the most creative, binding, powerful force in the world to unite friends and communities. Why it isn’t revered for its own sake is a mystery. In earlier times there were needs such as grinding corn, weaving baskets, sharpening stones for arrowheads that occasioned people sitting and talking hour upon hour, a flow of energy that feeds the spirit. Today we no longer have such common rituals to bind us, and maybe need to recreate and find them. Texting and e-mailing are instinctive attempts to keep the larger conversation going, but are not the same.

Painting with my friends today I recalled these thoughts. Barn raisings, house painting, garden planting – communities of friends have a lot to offer each other by inviting each other into it.

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