Today is the tenth anniversary of the day that I first moved into a co-op house in Madison. I’ve been living in an intentional community lifestyle ever since then.
As much as I want to celebrate ten consecutive years of community living and the fact I’ve lived in intentional communities for over one-fourth of my life, it’s not just intentional communities that I’ve wanted to write about.
I’ve been a Bahá’í for five years, but it’s not just the Bahá’í Faith that I’ve wanted to write about.
I’ve been concerned for several decades about the state of our world and our continued ability to sustain life on this planet, but it’s not just the environment that I’ve wanted to write about.
I’ve struggled for months if not years to come up with a single world to really try to describe what it is that I want to write about and why. “A Hundred Hands Will Catch You,” while compelling (and based off a line in a poem I wrote over twenty years ago) still did not quite sum up what I felt this blog was about.
I found myself wanting to reach for something that links all these things. Community, togetherness, unity, oneness, love…what? These words seemed so abstract and overused as to become highly subjective and/or meaningless. Reaching for them felt like reaching for handfuls of air–there was nothing original there, nothing to grab on to.
Then I came upon the word “gather.” Meaning people–gathering people. Something felt right about this word–a little more concrete. People coming together for a good reason. What reason? Many reasons: to get to know each other, to enjoy each others’ company, to dance together, to pray together, to create change.
One concern I’ve highlighted frequently over seven years of blogging has been the degree to which Westerners tend to live in isolation from each other compared to most of human history. Our world of intimates has often shrunk to the size of the nuclear family–with not much outside that nucleus–and even that nucleus has been split with single mothers struggling to raise children on their own, giving away significant portions of their income to child care and at the mercy of employers that won’t let them stay home with a sick child. Regardless of our status, we are left with little time to share with each other, so television, the Internet and video games fill the void.
We’ve let ourselves become broken up as a people. We’ve become prisoners within castle walls stacked up high with bulk purchases from Sam’s Club. With the biggest interactions between us and the real world coming through television and the Internet, we can easily become defenseless against the whims of image makers, spin-meisters, and people all too wiling to define our reality for us. We are, in essence…
Scatterlings. I’m reminded by the Juluka song from the early 1980s. It’s hard to find a definition of the word “scatterlings” or how it came into being–a common online definition of the word is “One who has no fixed habitation or residence; a vagabond.” Juluka’s song “Scatterlings of Africa,” according to songwriter Johnny Clegg, was about how all of us Homo Sapiens have our origin in Africa. The lyrics of the song also speak a lot about searching for truth–the line “on the road to Phelamanga,” refers to a search for the place where the lies end and where there is nothing left but the truth.
Thus the genesis of the new title for this blog: gatherlings. Now that we have scattered ourselves in so many ways, to the extent where human beings and the resources of the earth are becoming more and more exploited, it becomes critical for us to gather together. Why? Once again: to get to know each other, to enjoy each others’ company, to dance together, to pray together, to create change. To gather together is the essence of civilization. We are still learning to become civilized. We are still evolving as a species and as a society, and evolve we must if we are to avoid becoming extinct.