Sunday, January 26, 2014

Turning the ideal into the real

Chopping wood, shoveling snow: high ideals and practical applications

Last Sunday was a beautiful day out here in the mountains where New Horizons is slowly but surely revitalizing its training and retreat center. Our concern that day was, however, not much about the ideal. Rather it was the ordinary demanding  our attention. We had only two sticks of wood left from our former abundant supply, courtesy of Bobby Lowery, sawmill owner. And, a severe snowstorm with another period of freezing temperatures was on its way.

Saturday night I looked at the dwindling remnants of firewood, knowing that wood gathering was top priority. OMG! On the one hand, we might be just fine. And, on the other we might be at risk; without electricity etc. for days. You just never know how things will fall out here, especially in these days of extreme weather conditions.

We had a good plan, however, based, for sure, on the principle of “leaning in.” By early afternoon we were well on our way; “doing” that which New Horizons represents; not merely talking community-unity, but doing and being it.

The trio at hand-- Sue, chairperson of our remodeling committee with her truck, Chris, our handy man with his heavy-duty chainsaw, and me, the best-intentioned gofer when it comes to practical endeavors such as wood gathering -- was well-aligned with our intentions to care for our small zone of peace; first things first; high ideals -- and -- practical applications.

(I can, still, barely change a light bulb. So you know success, other than organizing projects and bringing people together would, for sure, not rest on me. It takes a village, even a teeny, tiny one, right?)

Long story short: Off we went to the wooded areas of our retreat center property to assure winter storm survival out here.

Within a brief few hours, we had cut (that’s Chris), gathered, hauled, loaded and unloaded the truck (Chris, Sue and I) and stacked enough wood, two and one-half truckloads, indoors to last for a time. We would definitely make it through the cold, snowy days to come; all done with optimum, harmonious pulling together. Synergy, ummm, good!

Laughing and refreshed by the rare, above fifty degree weather and sunshine, Sue marveled at how well we had all worked together.

I tell you this story to bring home one important, but relatively small point:

High ideals and practical applications are what is behind New Horizons’ devotion to Murat Yagan and the prototypical Kebzeh community he built around him in Vernon, B.C.. Synergy, ummm, good!

Working well together, that’s how we all should/could be; "one for all and all for one"; averting crises. Certainly not passively allowing them to infiltrate our lives or, worse, propagating and perpetuating them.

New Horizons, unlike those who have, for many years, lived near Murat as have his students in Vernon, B.C., is not a spiritually-based community development effort.  No, indeed!

Humane and ethical principles, spiritual or not, are not dependent, however, upon one like-minded ideology as practiced by those in Vernon in their very exceptional community. The community traditions of ancient Abkhazia, as Murat has passed them on, can be interpreted and applied to all kinds and colors of people – and – collective endeavors. Any community, group or organization that wishes to and puts forth the effort, as New Horizons has done, can develop, over time, into an exceptional community.

New Horizons, as it is today, teaches community development skills and mentors individuals, groups, organizations and small communities to overcome polarization. Our methodology; much of it derived from Murat (and my earlier mentor, Martin G. Groder, M.D.), thus, helps  people develop into exceptional community participants. Be they leaders or followers.

Teaching people the fine art of building bridges across the rivers of diversity that separate us from one another in modern, mainstream America is our aim.  If this is what you are after, you learn to keep whatever has the potential to divide to the side and go for the common ground at its highest. Be it spiritual, cultural, gender-based and/or political.

Thus, last Sunday, one hard-core hermit, Chris, one former anti-Semitic, recovering Jewish American princess (me) and dear Quaker Sue, had a grand time working happily together to assure warmth for a possibly endangered mountain side dwelling; the New Horizons training and retreat center.

As happy as the birds outside my window, now, feasting at the bird feeder, Sue and I put the show and tell steps of Murat’s Seven Ways to Knowledge aside and simply got into the doing, the feeling (oh so happy) and the being. Which is, of course, how real deal peace buddies do it!

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