That night I had a dream I was in a room with five or so people and a young woman in the room was very upset and had a gun. Someone I know in Port Townsend talked her down, but the tension was so high, and being talked down was so anti-climactic, that she felt she still needed to do something and decided to shoot two people anyway. Next in the dream, I'm in the river and I hear people talking about the incident. I felt they were not really understanding the event properly, and talking about it in a way that wasn't really true, but I didn't correct them because it was hard to find the words for the feeling I had being there.
When I woke, I wasn't sure at first where the dream came from, but that day, I somehow found myself remembering that Jacqueline Freeman once told me that as a friend painted their house, he was going through a rough time, so he would dedicate each wall he painted to someone - like Ghandi. I had a feeling like I wanted to dedicate my work that day to the girl in my dream.
For the rest of the day, I felt incredibly productive. I was constantly and pleasantly busy, cutting bricks, laying bricks, filling water buckets, mixing mortar, keeping things moving on site... easy flow and purpose.
It hit me later that day that the girl in my dream needed to feel USEFUL. She needed to do something, and do something productive. She needed healthy action.
Sometimes I can get caught in a spiral of wondering if my contributions, connections, and work in the world are valuable at all. When Adam Lanza shot children at an elementary school in Connecticut last year, I was living in my hometown of Bend, Oregon at the time, and I felt connected to him one day when I was walking up Pilot Butte and looking out at the ugly-developed city Bend has become. I felt the gravity of the grind. The grid. The cars whizzing along as if we're not all whizzing ourselves off of a fossil fuel cliff, disconnected from the reality that is the poison on the grocery-store shelving and fast food fractals from hunger to health-care while a needless war rages and 'schools' dehumanize our children. That our families were broken and our houses were built of toxic, subsidized, commodified materials, stuffed of possessions that do not fill the void of the death of our ancestral village, the loss of our cultural commons, and the connection with our Soul. The landscape seemed to me paved with a numbness of ancient wounding that wasn't being held or grieved, and I could relate to Adam Lanza's utter feeling of smallness - a desire to do SOMETHING that would get people to STOP and just PAY ATTENTION to anything different than the mind jumble that becomes the news, and the stocks, and whatever else we have chosen to busy our minds with. The desire for something dramatic in order to wake people up.
And in my dream, the desire for the girl to shoot two people in the room even though she was calmed down.
But shooting people didn't help her, I could feel it. It left her feeling even more confused, empty, and hurt, and everyone else feeling horrified and sad. It's moments like these that I often find my body crying the grief others suppress, and feel the emotion of the World pass through, releasing itself back into Creation. This time, we - the girl in my dream and I - were transformed through our working together on the stove. I felt so much love for her, and for my working companions as an extension.
During lunch the next day we learned about the plane that was shot down in Ukraine killing 298 people. 298 is an unfathomable number to take in at a glance. There's three of us on this job, and if one of us died, we would feel the impact in a huge way. Each one of the 298 people are a part of circles like ours, families, friends, groups, neighborhoods... the impact of 298 people dead is enormous. And we have a choice of what to do with this kind of information. Normally, we would not have known about the event... as far as the Stove Build in Grapeview, WA is concerned, it's a hot summer day and we're sitting on buckets eating lunch. The swainson's thrush has been twittering away all day and the water from our brick saw is making an interesting display on the driveway. We get online and see 'the news'... We can let it touch our hearts, to feel the ripple of the lives changed by the event, or we can track fear wondering if it will start another war, who instigated it and why, and what the repercussions will be. There's so much hopeless about a situation that seems so far away when we forget to bring it back to a personal level. Never to push it away, ignore the fear, or be numb to the losses, but to take the time to let the information completely sink in and find our own truth within it.
Ultimately, we have full responsibility for how we let everything about our lives be the ritual we needed for the medicine we thought we wanted... for me, this week healership and stoves are hand-in-hand.
Between last week's work on the stove and this week's I wondered if a part of me was neglecting my studies as a healer by working so much recently. After returning from the Fairy & Human Relations Congress the week before, I felt inspired to focus my attention even moreso to healing, and I forgot why in the world I was building stoves. It dawned on me the evening before leaving again that... well, the simplest way to say it is: Time is not linear. I am not neglecting healership when I work on projects just as soon as I'm not neglecting the garden while I'm cooking dinner. Everything is a continuation on its own track in its own time. I know building home, creating community, placemaking... everything associated with these things is part of my work here. To me, building is healing, too. Placemaking is healing the landscape, the social fabric, and the spiritual connection to place. These stoves are a piece in the bigger story of the future of our relationship with the land, the future of a land-based community, a skill set used to bring fire to many people, as we learn and teach others, and build for others, bringing our Whole Presence to the job site with us, leaving good memories and a warm hearth.
As for our crew: while we were good at taking breaks for snacks, water, and cooking meals, I felt an absence of check-in times like I had gotten used to on the Living Prayer job site, but I was nervous to suggest we make time for them. The first day we arrived this week it seemed really apparent to me that even though we were working together alright, we were struggling to find a good rhythm because we had arrived at different times and none of us had really 'gotten there', still traveling in our spirits. I wanted to suggest we stop and check-in together, but I felt a little more time-pressure for this job, and a little more straight-forwardness of the tone of working together... but I asked one member of our team is he'd be into morning rituals, and he was, and so I asked the other, and he was, and we decided to.
Our morning ritual is stretching, checking about how our bodies feel, and how we are emotionally and mentally. It takes us about 15 minutes and reflections on this check-in time included, "I'm really glad we did that. Just 5 minutes of stretching made my body feel so much better." "It really helped us arrive. I feel a lot more grounded and ready to work. A lot more focused."
The day of our first check-ins together was the day I worked with the girl in my dream, and all-together, we worked wonders into the stove the rest of the week. May it be that all changes we feel could benefit our most immediate circumstances will ripple out into the world through our work at a human-scale, wherever we may find ourselves.