The snow fell, fast and the wind drove the light, flaky snow into mounds of white powder that were waist high. The color of the woodland is such a stark grey against the titanium white of winter in a first snow-fall. Church was cancelled as was the Louisa May Alcott Christmas tea and reading that we were going to host as a Unitarian event.
We are particularly fortunate to have our own Walden Pond here in South County Rhode Island & an opportunity to host meetings of a Transcendentalist Group on a pond formed by the same Wisconsin glacier that formed Walden in Concord. Years ago, early 1970’s, I had an opportunity to name a clinical service of the mental health center and I chose South Shore Mental Health because as I saw it, “Washington County was a government catchment area and South County was a state of mind.”
South County has always been a state of mind to me. I would come down here from Providence to a cozy cabin near Charlestown Beach and the feeling was like the one one gets from listening to a movement from the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony, upon arriving in the country on a summer’s day. South County always meditated me, it draws me closer to the nature of the sacred and it pulls my thinking mind into submission as surely as does a Gong Bath.
Through the years, the 40 or so that I have been coming and going from this glorious section of our state, I have seen too much development, too many farm lands going to build commercial zones and residential plats, as my father use to call them. The problem with the plats is that they are not built with any intention of they being able to create and sustain community. One hundred houses can replace a potato farm without as much as a community room established where neighbors might meet. How different a plat might be is 10 to 20 of the four hundred acres had been designated for use as a community garden…
I have seen people move in from big cities from the north or the south. They come to get away from the urban culture and the first thing they do is cut down every tree, and pave a driveway, then seed a lawn…The consciousness is not there to preserve the glorious and sacred aspects of the land, it is exploited by developers, purchased by city folks and treated like a bedroom to the city from which they have just emerged. Now the difference is they use more gas and oil to get back and forth from the city.
Well, as I often do, I am straying. I wanted to write a few words this morning about just how fortunate a community we are here in the remaining woodlands and ocean side arena of South Shore. There is a group of people as interesting and as nobel as our cousins in Concord, Massachusetts were one-hundred and fifty years ago. There the seat of American Literary and liberal theology sat as a genius cluster of early Americans came together to celebrate the lives and loves of people & nature and the divine with no intervention necessary from ancestral religions to assist. These 19th century Transcendentalist worshipped a way of life that at its very foundation saw the oneness and the unity of the universe as the organizing principle of their lives and their community.
As we approach 2010, it seems very clear to me that perhaps the same principle of oneness is again at the foundation of our gatherings, through the Songha, the Unitarian church, The Artists Way, & through our food co-op, and our community gardens and our sustainability principles operating through bartering systems. We are returning to a way of living that is asking of us that we fall off the commerce grid, dust off, and pick ourselves up in a new village where caring for each other is the method of attaining mindfulness, sustainability, and a peaceful serenity that is at the core of our real “social security”.
As the American dollar grows thin, and our unemployment rate rises, and as a decade of 6% inflation is being predicted, we are not at the end of a big recession, we may well be at the beginning of a 2nd Great Depression. More & more of our middle class is entering poverty each week, some for the first time in their lives. Economic recovery for many Americans will not come with an upward blast in the stock market numbers, for most Americans in poverty or entering poverty the stock market is as distant a concept as the several trillion dollar deficit, or the impact of the rain forest in Peru on the price of homeland security. We have to face it, accept it, most Americans do not know how to interpret the writing on the walls of the cave.
The Great American Empire and its “democratic-imperialism” may well be a “thing” of the past. Large centralized governments with the ability to cast out safety nets is not in the cards, not in health care, nor in job creation, & certainly nor in banking. The wave of the future is globalization and we are not anytime soon going to be hired to run the world from the perch of the North American Continent.
We are in line for a major paradigm shift. “Think Local,” ought to become South County’s mantra of sustainability. Here, in our towns and villages we do not have to be afraid of socialism. We know the liberal benefit behind helping each other out, because, for the Grace of God, I may be the next one to find myself without a boot-strap. We are in a war in the middle-east and we are in an economic war at home. In the same way that I do not subscribe to drone bombing missions, I do not subscribe to the “hope” that this or that form of American politics will fix me. In Health and in Mental Health, I have to be pro-active. I can use the mindfulness of the Songha and the Unitarian principles of oneness, along with the support of the local Artist’s Way to find Grace abundantly and to supply Grace liberally.
In January I am planing to bring together a group of people and practitioners who might be willing to toss around the concept of sustainability as it applies to the fields of health, mental health and spiritual growth. I am envisioning a kind of Pastoral Counseling Center with a variety of dimensions to the services provided as well as a variety of educational forums and public hearings to function as outreach for this young idea.
If anyone reading this blog installment would like to read the seeds of the proposal, please write to me and I will send you what I have. I am adding ideas, newspaper articles, opinions and new thoughts on the topic as they emerge.
Have a Happy Holiday, what ever you choose to celebrate at this solstice time of the year.