Whoa, lots of stuff has happened here since my last blog post. The 80 acre piece of land just north of us was purchased; the 60 acres to the north of that is being purchased tomorrow by our friend Beth Campbell; 2 baby goat bucks were born; we started working on and have made a lot of progress on the duplex, timber frame/straw-bale building; our gardens have been producing lots of food; the cicadas have come and gone (they were very tasty, we ate lots of them); I went to St. Louis for my cousin, Kristen’s wedding; we started doing some Naka Ima work together; Ethan (The Zing), Beth (The Great Gichigumi), and I (Fortidude) went on the Iowa Superhero Bike Ride; and I’ve been learning and discovering a lot about myself and as a result feel much more free and alive.
Most of the work that I’ve been doing here for the last month has been on the duplex. It is a new house that we’re building using mostly natural materials either directly from the land, from the immediate local area, salvaged materials from nearby, and a few new things that are not so natural and not so local. The foundation for the building is a bunch of Osage Orange poles buried below the frost line and sticking above the ground about 3 feet. Osage Orange is the most rot resistance wood that grows in North America and it grows abundantly here in North East Missouri (NEMO). Several White Oak trees were harvested from the land here last year and some Amish neighbors that have a saw mill came out and milled them into square and rectangular timbers. These White Oak timbers are being joined together to make the structural timber frame for the house. Salvaged pine boards are being used for the floor and roof structures and other salvaged and locally harvested wood will be used for the finishing work on the interior of the building. The walls will be earthen plastered straw bales and the floor and roof will be insulated with wool from a local sheep farmer. I have been learning a lot working on this project and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it as well. The crew that I get to work with is great. The experienced natural builder, Julia, is a joy to work with and is also a joy to have living here while she helps us with the building projects. We’ve been having a lot of fun working together and I have really enjoyed connecting with her.
The Superhero Bike Ride was an amazing experience for me. A little history first, though. Ethan and small group of people did the first Superhero Bike Ride 10 years ago and there have been over 20 rides since that first one. The basic vision of the ride is to get a group of people together and dress up like superhero’s and ride bicycles from town to town doing service work and bringing love and joy wherever the ride ends up going. Each superhero has their own identity which speaks something about their character or personality and the costumes are an easy way to break the ice when meeting new people and offering to help. A big thing that is a focus on a ride is to find he local superheros that don’t wear capes that are doing impactful and meaningful work in their communities everyday and recognize them and encourage them and help support them in what they are doing. The Superheros wearing capes and riding bikes and serving are only part time superheros and want to recognize and support the full time folks doing good in their community. The reason why we ride bicycles is to travel mindfully by having a minimal ecological footprint and to slow down the pace of life so that there is more room for joy and spontaneity and reflection. We carry everything that we need with us on the bikes: clothes, tents, sleeping bags, food and other miscellaneous things so that all that we need when we arrive in a town is service work to do and a place to pitch our tents. Another big thing about the ride is that there is no plan of where we end up going. We all meet at a decided location and then we go by faith and follow where we are led or where there is need. This ride’s starting point was a Catholic Worker farm 15 miles north of Ames, IA. We stayed there for 3 days of training and serving on the farm. Next, we rode into Ames and stopped in a park and then sent out scouts to look for a place to set up camp and places to serve. The scouts came back after a couple hours and we had several opportunities to serve and a place to stay. We headed off to Helen Gunderson’s house to serve and the set up camp. She seemed to be in her 50s or 60s and was a great woman. She had an amazing garden in her back yard with chickens, veggies and some perennial food plants. She has been car free for quite a while and is able to go wherever she needs to go and get what she needs by bike and by getting rides from friends. She was really appreciative of our help and we really appreciated her generosity and all of the great work she does in the community. We stayed with her for 3 nights and a couple superheros went to a couple of other places in Ames to serve other than at Helen’s. When a superhero leaves the ride or we part company with a local superhero that we’ve served, we do a superhero goodbye circle. We all form a circle and hold hands and invite the person we are recognizing into the center and then we share a word or a couple sentences about what inspires us about that person or ways that they impacted us and then we give the person an imploding supernova of love, which is to say we basically do a big group hug around the person and send our loving energy to them through that. The superhero goodbye circle is a profoundly impactful experience for people and I personally have really enjoyed being on the giving and receiving ends of the circle. Other ritual/tradition things that are a part of the ride are a morning meeting to decide by consensus what we’ll be doing that day; a thanking and sharing time at the end of the day to share with the group things from the day that we were thankful for or were impactful for us; the dice of destiny, which is rolling a dice which randomly selects an activity (such as: life as a musical, freeze-tag, kissing combat, orchestration, and other fun games or activities) for the group to do that day from a list that we generate at the beginning of the ride. We rode to and served at many more places and were continually surprised by the amazing connections that we made with people along the way and the giving and receiving that happened as we took risks to open up to new people and they took risks to welcome a group of people wearing capes and superhero outfits. It was a great experience for me that helped me to overcome some fears and do some inner work and to open up and feel more free to be spontaneous and more joyful. A lot of the inner work that I’ve been doing lately has been in figuring out the different things that I’ve been holding onto from my past that are blocking the joy and love from coming out of me. I’ve been operating for so long in ways that involve a lot of thinking and evaluating before I do or say anything and very frequently that evaluation leads to me not really communicating what is alive in my heart in the moment. For a while, this was necessary for me to go into my mind and process through my motivations for doing certain things and saying certain things, but at this point in my life I am feeling the need to trust that my intentions to love and serve others will come out in a healthy way without my inhibitions and emotional blockage getting in the way. Up to this point in my life I have been letting a lot of unhealthy things absorb my consciousness and that has resulted in me keeping some things inside and bottling them up. I’m working to open up those bottles so that more of who I really am can come out and I can be more fully alive and present in each moment. I feel like I have a long road ahead of me in this process, but I’m very thankful to have help and support from so many wonderful people.
I started reading a couple more good books that I recommend: The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, and A Theory of Everything by Ken Wilbur.
There is so much more that I could write, but I’ve got stuff to do. Life is good.