Recently I have had an opportunity to look through the lens of my life history, and watch my sense of individual agency grow up. Agency is your capacity to show up, be present in your own truth, and act from deep intention. People call it being authentic, centered, grounded. This quality is our sacred sovereignty, and I think of it as my human capacity to organize all the different aspects of my being into a coherent whole.
I regained contact with a friend from 40 plus years ago. We knew each other in Chicago in the political movements of the 1960’s and early 70’s. It was a time of intense change everywhere, and one of the hot spots was Chicago. Vivian and I lived together in what we all took very seriously as a socialist commune, with shared income, collective child care, cooperative house maintenance. Each of us had a regular income producing job, and also a specific house responsibility. My focus was to be the auto mechanic of the house, keeping all our machines in order. (I have always been interested in restoring systems into harmony and order! )
In our communal meetings we studied political theory and discussed world events. We participated together in the anti-war movement, the women’s movement, what was then called the “gay liberation” movement. We did community organizing around racial equality, voter rights, education, the environment.
After three years of living together in this way, the group began to disperse, and I left to live in an international spiritual community in Scotland called Findhorn.
Findhorn is known as a place where people are exploring co-creation with the intelligence of nature, and growing a human community based on spiritual principles and sustainability. It is a place where the promises of an abundant future can be planted and begin to take root. It has been functioning as a center for spiritual exploration and change for almost 50 years.
In the political movements of the 1960’s and 70’s though, many people around me were thinking that the only way to bring about social change was political opposition, even violence. Many of my cohorts disapproved of my move, and let me know! In their eyes I was going off to the spaciness of la-la land, abandoning the Just Cause. In my mind I was intuitively following a need to understand a deeper, more joyful vision of how humans can work and live and create the future together.
Back to my reconnection story. Recently I went to see the new documentary “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” about the beginnings of the women’s movement, which had many of its roots in Chicago. (Such a great title for the film! I could write a whole essay on the nuances in those words about women’s roles. But way underneath it all, it is about all of us humans discovering our deep Humanity and the power of our sacred sovereignty.)
To my surprise and delight, I knew many of the people in the film and had participated in some of the events shown, and one of the key people featured in the film was my former housemate. So I set about trying to find her. On the internet I found some talks she has given and many articles she has written. Though she doesn’t take a spiritual approach at all, I loved the heartful spirit that inhabits her work. I learned that she is now a well known social activist in her city and nationally. One moving talk I saw was about her Jewish background, and what it was like to have been raised by holocaust survivors who lived from within the embedded knowledge and fear that your life can be taken away completely, without any warning, by people who don’t know you, for no true reason.
When I finally located Vivian, we began to write emails back and forth, trying to catch each other up on over 40 years of very different life experience. It has been so interesting getting to know her again. For me, writing to her is an opportunity to find ways to speak about what is important to me now, through words and stories that can speak directly to her innate wisdom and generosity of spirit and love of humanity and the world. I know that she and I are on different pages today, but we are in the same book. What a wonderful challenge, especially these days, to find a common language that can hold what is truly important under the words…
In one of her letters she asked me why I left the political movement to go to Findhorn. All she knew about Findhorn was that back then it was a place in the UK that grew big cabbages and roses in the snow.
I found that writing about why I went to Findhorn was an interesting wandering through the currents of change in my own life. I noticed how my life has always been about waking up to the power and meaning of sovereignty in me.
Following is part of one of the letters I wrote. To me, it reveals a real person (me!), gathering the bumpy road of daily challenges and learnings over time into a long weaving of intuition, insight and life wisdom.
(Continued in part 2…)