A Path to Community: From Findhorn to Oregon House by Melita Marshall
In October 1996, I sat down and wrote my Mission Statement. This exercise was the first step in grounding my vision for the healing and retreat center I wanted to create. I dedicated my center to “The realization and right use of personal potential, power and uniqueness; the reconsecration of work as service; the reclamation of personal responsibility in the creation of health and well-being; the renewal of life as community; and the celebration of diversity and the one creative mystery behind it.”
The seed of this dream was planted in 1990 while at the Findhorn Community in Scotland. Inspired by Findhorn’s founders, Eileen and Peter Caddy, I started along the path—but it was neither the time, nor Findhorn the place, as it turned out. I had to wait until I had been through an intense healing process of my own. I couldn’t begin to create the community of my dreams until I could confront and work through the inner terrors which have dogged me every step of the way in doing it. During that process, I trained in Rogerian counseling, energy balancing and shamanic soul retrieval work. I studied astrology and experienced the guidance and love of many wonderful teachers and healers.
To Oregon House I left England (my home for almost 50 years) in the summer of 1996, having sold my house and given away most of my personal possessions. I came to the northwest with no visa, but with a clear sense of purpose and guidance that this is the right place and the right time.
I had made some money in a business making and selling inkjet printers for industrial coding back in the ’80s, and had always felt that it was for a purpose which would reveal itself by and by. That purpose is now manifesting.
I have asked myself what does it mean to be strongly individualistic, yet have a firm sense of myself as a member of a community? What and where is my community? These questions have surfaced strongly in the creation of Oregon House.
Hologram as spiritual model In expressing my personal philosophy and spirituality—consciously including both my heart and my head in this—the metaphor of the hologram is useful. We are all familiar with the holograms we see on our credit cards and elsewhere. If a photographic plate on which a hologram is formed shatters into a million pieces, each piece is, of course, separate and distinct. If reassembled, they add up to the whole again, showing a single image. Yet incredibly, each shard, if illuminated separately, contains the whole three-dimensional image of the object.
So, I believe, it is with us. We are each different and individual and the sum of us all is the Whole. And yet each of us contains the Whole within us. It is the challenge of the new paradigm to hold and live this paradox.
Being incarnate, each of us must have the courage to fully express who we are. Each of us is a piece of the Whole. Animals, trees and plants, even rocks and streams, all have soul. Indigenous people, who live closer to the earth than we do, know this. You have only to see the prayer flags on bridges in Tibet or witness the Quechua of Peru making a despacho as offering to the mountains to feel this connection, this respect.
The challenge is to relax into life, rejoice in diversity and find joy at the cosmic joke of our apparent separation. Like the hologram, we remember that we also contain everything that is, has been or will be.
Community as Process Life is community. It is who we are in our essential core. We are not here by accident. Events and circumstances are not random. Every bit of information generated by social interaction is revealing. We are involved in nothing less than conscious evolution, creating a better way to be in the world.
A shift in my life and my community is that the emphasis is no longer to seek consensus for things to go smoothly, nor to rely on authority to force outcomes. I celebrate that what you want and how you see things is different from me. Maybe today we do things my way—tomorrow your way. I am happy to experience your joy, for it gives me an opportunity to see another aspect of the Whole. Insisting on consensus often results in the lowest common denominator—we are both only partially satisfied.
The implications of this new paradigm are widespread, affecting all aspects of our life—work, relationships, health, spiritual practice, technology—everything. Community is the laboratory in which we work these things out and face our shadow.
As I explore who I really am, without old fears or shames, I will discover myself to be a complex personality. I may want to engage in a wider diversity of activities than before, to fully express all parts of me. Work may involve sharing jobs and responsibility. As I begin to perceive my work as an opportunity to truly express myself, it is also service to the Whole.
As I begin to recognize myself to be an energetic being, I may come to understand illness in a way quite distinct from conventional understanding. Disease may be seen as the result of soul loss, or an energetically unhealthy environment or diet, or perhaps psychic attack, or an unhealthy attachment. If parts of us have fled, or are stuck in other realms, or are attached to someone else, the potential for healing is limited. Energy medicine is the medicine of the new paradigm.
Here at Oregon House, we are consciously trying to live in accordance with such truths. The key is simple trust. Through a series of early betrayals, I learned, as so many of us do, not to trust others. But I could not live in isolation because I have human needs for company when the sense of separation is too much to bear alone. To reach out to others meant I had to learn to trust others. To trust others, I had to trust myself. Before I could trust myself, I learned to trust the Whole. It was only when I consistently enjoyed a sense of being held and guided, spiritually, that the right things happened (even if they were, at times, deeply uncomfortable and not what I thought I wanted). Only then did I trust. It happens slowly.
From trust comes ability to commit. First I commit my life to the service of the Whole. Abundance comes from this simple, yet oh-so-difficult act. I cried with tears of sadness at forgetting and joy at remembering when I read Sobonfu Some’s wonderful little book The Spirit of Intimacy. Community, trust and commit-ment to each other and to the Whole are the keys to life as she knew it in her African village. Intimacy follows, for what can the ego grab now to create separation?
We of the West, in our struggle to claim freedom and individuality, forget that we are also interdependent and, essentially, the same. The Eastern spiritual traditions remind us we are not separate. Fortunately we are beginning to remember we are both unique and a piece of the mystery. Let us trust it is not too late.
Melita Marshall is founder of Oregon House, a healing and retreat center on the Oregon coast, and Metanoia, which sponsors a series of residential workshops at Oregon House, dedicated to transformational work in small groups. For information, contact: Oregon House, 94288 Highway 101, Yachats, OR 97498. Tel: 541-547-3329 FAX: 541- 547- 3754 or visit the website: www.oregonhouse.com