Sunday, March 13, 2011

The less tangible side of gathering

At the annual gathering in Pennsylvania in 2010, a few people mentioned how much they love these series of blogs but were interested in the why or less tangible side of a lot of what I post on this blog.  That's a tough one to accomplish as it gets very personal.  However, I will attempt from time to time to give some more of this side of gathering. Keep in mind that what I write represents my opinion or my experience only.  I'll try to include links to other people's thoughts when relevant.  So here goes post #1 on this topic.

Why I gather:

If I went into how I started gathering, I'd be writing for months, but looking at why I want to gather in Washington and why I gathered in Pennsylvania, it's all about learning. Every time I go to a gathering, I feel like I'm entering a huge sandbox where I get to learn about other people, creating community and myself.  Here is one example - the details may be off as life becomes a blur after a while but the truth is accurate:

A lost child:

Every time I go out looking for a lost child I am faced with challenges. Remembering what the child looks like, trying to put myself in the place of the child so I can try to go where that child went,  making sure I'm observing details, and talking to other gatherers about my search for the missing child. At the New Mexico Gathering in 2009, I was at INFO after dark when a frantic mom came to report that her son was missing.  He was eight or nine but had some issues that left him functioning at the level of a much younger child. The mother said he loved fires and drums and hung out by the hydration station.

A group of people instantly ran off in the direction of the hydration station along one side of the main meadow. I walked into the main meadow and stopped, trying to listen the my heart.  Gazing around the meadow, I noticed the big boogie pit at the bottom of the meadow and headed there. A large crowd was involved in drumming and dancing and just hanging out.  When a small break in the music presented itself, I stood up next to the fire to get people to quiet down so I could let them know about the lost boy.  Many people told me to leave that this wasn't the time and place to discuss a lost child.  Others shouted them down and told them to listen to what I had to say. Finally after a bunch of back and forth, silence fell and I could explain the situation.

When I was finished, a sister said that sounds like the boy who was over here bothering us so we told him to leave.  (This broke my heart)  I said where did he go.  She pointed up the trail en route to the trade circle and I immediately left (not without wanting to lecture her and all the others at the drum circle who thought drumming was more important than helping a young boy be safe and happy, but finding this boy was my mission).

I hurried up the trail and stopped at each fire. At the second fire, I found the young man listening to some kind family playing guitar and singing and he was entranced.  I squatted down and asked him his name. After he confirmed that he was in fact the boy I was looking for, I took his hand and said, let's go to Kid Village and find your mom (all lost kids and lost parents should always be taken to kid village).  As soon as we were on the trail, I saw a friend of mine with a radio and asked him to call in and let everyone know the child had been found and we were en route to kid village. (we walked that way together as it's always best when escorting a small child to have at least one other person with you to ensure the safety and sanity of all concerned).  Half way across the meadow, a man ran up claiming to be the father, but in his infinite wisdom he said he would walk with us to kid village as I didn't know him from a dragon.

I'm sure I don't need to spell out all the lessons I learned in finding this boy, but they are powerfully strong lessons and very sad at the same time.  I find that people who aren't willing to learn the lessons that the universe is teaching them, tend to have trouble gathering. After all, if you want the world to conform to the way you believe it is, you're not going to be happy when the universe keeps breaking down your sense of self and reality.  But then again, this is just my opinion.

Other People's Thoughts:

If you're interested in some other opinions by people who I highly respect and have been gathering far longer than I have, try one of these great explanations:

Why Gather
What is the Rainbow Family of Living Light?
What is Rainbow?


  1. You acted in a wise manner. I like the way you went into the meadow stopping to listen to your heart and putting yourself in the child's position. It was good walking with you during WY in 08'. Looking forward to seeing you in WA. Lost&Found

  2. I remember looking for a lost child at KV in Wyoming. I see what you mean about thinking like a child. It was first thing in the morning. As it turned out, the little girl (less than five) had woken up before Mom and decided to go to the latrine "like a big girl" by herself. She fell in. She could hear us all calling her, but we couldn't hear her due to the nature of the slits and how deep in she was. Someone found her when they went to relieve themselves. Lost children are scary. Thanks for this post and sharing the lessons you learned. That's why we have elders (you're one of the first I ever considered as such, don't think I'm calling you old). Lovin' You!
    -Geoff in SLC