Pockets of the Future Blog

Striving to live now as all will live in the future.

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    Aug
    02

    And All That We Don’t See For Which We Could Otherwise Be Grateful

    Posted by pockets

    The other day I happened upon the below comment and it moved me very much. I am forever amazed at how little I know about anything including how much is done for me and provided for me by Him but about which I remain unaware. I long for greater sensitivity and awareness if, for no other reason, than to be able to be grateful for that much more.

    The grace of God is the love of God, love manifested in innumerable blessings, known and unknown to us. Human beings live on Earth in their shells, mostly unaware of all the privileges of life, and therefore ungrateful to the Giver of them. In order to see the grace of God, one must open one’s eyes, raising one’s head from the little world that one makes around oneself, and thus see above and below, right and left, before and behind, the grace of God reaching one from everywhere in abundance. Hazrat Inayat Khan

    It seems like our view of things is always so much more narrow than we think. Even of the good stuff. We long for so much and there it is before us and within us and yet we still don’t see it.

    May we yield gracefully in our lives as our Higher Selves - our inner bits that are Him and Nature and All - draw us into circumstances and possibilities that will allow us to become aware and grateful for all that there is. May we do all of this and still get dinner on the table night after night. That is the real trick. Expanding on and on into endless gratitude while still harvesting the squash in a timely fashion, sweeping the kitchen every morning, and pouring love into each child no matter what. It is striving to achieve the delicate balance of inner and outer, however, that is exactly the minute-by-minute challenge that propels us forward the most quickly.

    May we all harvest and sweep and love beautifully in gratitude for all that there is.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Mar
    22

    Society, Love and Homesteading

    Posted by pockets

    I just reconnected with a dear friend I met overseas 20 years ago and haven’t seen since. I am quite delighted by this unexpected event. She is an interesting, artsy sort of person who likes to contemplate big questions and then fold her discoveries into film making. These days she is contemplating this: how does society destroy love? I have been thinking about this question of hers for several days. I think it has captured my imagination because it frames what we constantly think about and talk about here at Pockets of the Future a little differently than we usually frame it and that slight difference is shedding light for me.

    What is the ground from which love springs? To start with, I believe that love and the ability to love (not be attached, mind you, but actually love) are natural to us. The ability to recognize love and be love is part of our Original Design. Therefore that which is unnatural takes us away from love and, given enough time and force, eventually destroys it. The ground of love is also characterized by simplicity, intimacy, and awareness. The atmosphere of love is one of purity and desirelessness. There is a timelessness to love and with that comes the ability to wait and to perceive correctly.

    Love holds you accountable beyond all other ideas or obligations. It requires of you the maximum in all ways in terms of willingness, cooperation, patience, sacrifice and acceptance. Not because that which is loved demands those things of you but because your own loving heart demands those things of you. Love itself demands those things of you.

    Within love, there can be no force, no willfulness, no profligate excess, no flagrant disconnection, no distraction, no noise. As long as love holds sway, any such tendencies will be thrown up to the surface to be washed away for there is no place for them. The ripples they cause within the ocean of love are disruptive. The ocean of love is mighty and moves to roll over and over such tendencies until they are polished back into love.

    Ideally, human society would reflect the Original Design just as individuals most thrive by reflecting the Original Design. What would such a natural society look like? I have no idea. I have thought about this question since I was in graduate school studying social policy and yet I still have no idea. That is the unvarnished truth.

    I do know, though, that it would not look at all like what we have going on right now. The goals of present day human society do not include anything to do with love, never mind fostering love. In fact I would go further and say that the goals of present day human society run precisely counter to love. Or perhaps it is ultimately the most accurate to say that love runs counter to virtually all aspects of present day human society and it is because of this and this alone that a great correction is in the offing.

    The keywords characterizing present societies run along the lines of domination, profit mongering, control, an obsessive pursuit of physical comfort, fear, placation, instant gratification, ignorance, denial of reality, destruction of all natural resources both within and without, specialization, learned helplessness, disconnection - in short, immorality. Human society is built around taking from nature what nature is not designed to give over the long run. Human society is built around procuring for humans what is not in the best interest of humans to have. And it forcibly denies (both in terms of acknowledging and in terms of allowing) humans access to what is natural, right, congruent, loving.

    I have been thinking of the specifics of this in terms of the life cycle. Pregnant women are “managed” and made to answer to the medical system of childbirth. Their access to appropriate care takers, foods and medicines and the time and atmosphere most suitable for pregnant women is regulated and denied them. Childbirth itself is an event dominated by technology and control which is by far and away not in the best interest of mother and infant. The powerful spiritual opportunity the natural intimacy between mother and infant provides and which is the foundation of the family, healthy childhood development and so on is methodically denied and destroyed.

    Intimacy is a very delicate state. I remember back to when I had my first baby. My parents came to visit when she was just a couple of weeks old. Now my parents had never been interested in or supportive of children or family or marriage. Those things held little value for them. They were well traveled, educated people who needed to be entertained. They were not the kind of parents who came to help out. Rather they came to eat the best food and see the most interesting sights in the area and so on. Oh right, and see the baby. Now up to the point of their visit, my intimacy with my daughter was total but by the time my parents left three days later, not only was I exhausted but I detected a slight shift in myself. Even though my baby girl had been in my arms the whole three days, my attention had been forcibly drawn elsewhere and this had created a slight space in our intimacy. I only had the opportunity to see this because I went back to my old quiet ways with her immediately upon their leaving. The space was filled back in with loving intimacy right away because I saw it. This was an incredible revelation to me - the delicacy of intimacy. Whatever direction we start in, we tend to continue on with. A slight space or rift in our attention, our connection, our intimacy will lead to a rift and thence to distance unless we take corrective action. But to do that you have to see it and to see it, you have to stop and feel and take note and that society does not want us to do. This subtle intimacy is true of all important relationships (familial, spiritual and so on) and it brooks no master other than love itself. I don’t think many of us can even imagine any longer what it means to live within a web of truly intimate relationships.

    We could go on and on through the entire life cycle like this. People get married at odd times and have children at even odder times in order to accommodate educational and professional schedules. Children are sent to schools to be tooled to fit into the industrial/technological economic model. Mothers and fathers are both out in the workplace earning and earning and earning. Families live in houses that are too big and filled with too much technology that fosters individual isolation rather than family togetherness and which sit empty most of the time. Health care revolves around technology, rules, ignorance and profit with natural, simple, timely approaches to health problems frequently outlawed. Care and instruction about health, child rearing and virtually all other endeavors of daily life comes from so-called experts and not from trusted family members or elders of the community. Older people are shuffled off into buildings and systems designed to manage them away from the hustle and bustle of a profit oriented society. And the land and nature? No connection whatsoever any more. Nature has been objectified into a sometimes recalcitrant provider of resources owed to the owners of production. People do not even know how to eat any more so how can they be expected to love? All relationships have been fractured. Society and, perhaps, particularly American society, pitches towards the system and away from intimacy, love and connection at all points of the day and the life cycle. As my husband frequently notes, present day society rewards sociopathic behavior and calls men with soft hearts weak. Many others note that highly intelligent, well educated women who choose to give themselves up to love and intimacy at home are said to be wasting their educations and lives. Where would love and intimacy, simplicity and awareness even come from under such conditions?

    This kind of list is not new at all. What is new to me, however, is thinking of this endlessly negative list of how society functions so unnaturally as society methodically destroying love. And destroy love it must. You cannot control people who live by the dictates of love. When people are firmly grounded within familial and spiritual love and intimacy, they will not choose to sacrifice their ways of live in order to buy widgets. When people live close to the land in grateful reciprocity, they will not be as inclined to listen to foolishness. They know better. They still listen to their hearts. They can still recognize, at least a little bit, the difference between natural and artificial and know from long experience that natural is always better in the long run. (This pivots to a certain extent upon how you define the word natural which is a surprisingly interesting topic I will save for another post some day.)

    All of this brings me to the vibrant reason we homestead here and homeschool and meditate and do so many other of the things that we do and talk about. We want real food, yes. We believe in our rights to self-determination from a political standpoint and revile NAIS or the watering down of the definition of organic or any attempts to control homeschooling and bring it back into the fold of profit and control, yes. We want our children to learn real life skills like milking a cow or reading the weather or designing and creating what they need for their daily lives themselves, yes. We know from experience that a life with a balance of physical efforts along with mental and all other efforts is a healthier life, yes. We can go on and on with this list too of why homesteading and homeschooling and slow cooking real food and living simply and so on are life affirming choices that promote intimacy and quiet awareness.

    But really we homestead and homeschool to preserve love. We homestead and homeschool to preserve our family, to preserve our beautiful intimacy, to preserve our Divine heritage. We homestead and homeschool and live simply in order to have the space to create community, to create the quiet within which to hear what comes next, to create the future.

    Someday, someday the phrase “society, love and homesteading” will not be a study in contrasts. Someday “society, love and homesteading” will be a phrase of natural congruity. And when that day comes, that phrase “society, love and homesteading” will be reduced to one single all important word.

    Love.

    The rest won’t matter. Societies and ways of life will be original, natural expressions of love and gloriously un-noteworthy because there will be just that one word and that will be enough.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Mar
    13

    Sometimes My Mind Lags Behind My Actual Experience

    Posted by pockets

    Today as I was grinding grain to make bread, I glanced over at the shelf that holds our garlic. It was empty!

    I thought, “Oh no, what can we possibly do about that? How will we go without garlic when we use it so much?”

    A moment later I realized, “Oh yeah, not too long ago we chose to go without garlic for months and months and did just fine. I guess this is not a big deal. Whew.”

    This made me laugh. See how the mind works? It contains so many entrenched ideas about what we have to have that even strong, successful experiences of living without an item or condition can be quickly forgotten.

    Hopefully my sometimes limited mind will catch up to my actual expansive experiences sometime soon …

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Feb
    03

    Crazy, Crazy Cow Times

    Posted by pockets

    I recently came across the following very interesting comment. I can say for a fact that he didn’t have homesteading in mind when he said it, but homesteading is certainly teaching me some of the truth of his sentiment.

    [He] always felt that the secrets of Nature are always shrouded in mystery. Birth is not for science according to him. Birth is a mystery. And the moment that mystery is opened and made a subject of science, in a very certain sense, when a mystery is exploded, it is made profane, it is without dignity, it becomes something as [He] used to say, ‘a market topic’ for conversation – a topic reduced to the roads, to the streets for discussion, for conversation, and for condemnation.
    He, the Hookah and I p. 260

    With us humans, you generally know when the ladies are pregnant and it has definitely become something profane these days. Some feel the sacredness at the moment of birth itself but, other than that, pregnancy and birth are definitely ‘a market topic’ for conversation and there is all sorts of intrusion all along the way.

    Now you take goats - you cannot tell when goats are pregnant no matter how expert you are. You basically have to know when they have been bred and then go from there with your planning and expectations. Goats keep their pregnancies to themselves.

    It turns out, to my surprise, that cows can do this too. Our first cow, the inestimable red and white Dutch Belted Pezra, was a perfect example. We bought her from friends (husband was a rancher from way back) with whom she had had a calf and who were milking her for some time. They got tired of having to be home for milking time twice a day and sold her to us, whereupon we milked her for quite a long time. Suddenly in the middle of that summer, she basically went dry. No one knew why. Crazy red headed behavior maybe? A couple of months later, her udder suddenly ballooned up in size. Yikes. The rancher-from-way-back previous owner came and looked at her. The dairy managers from whom the rancher had bought her came over and looked at her. They all shook their heads and scratched their chins but had no idea what was going on. We then attempted to treat her for mastitis in a dry cow which is bad news. Meanwhile, being desperate for more milk and having fallen in love with cows. we went and bought Pezra’s older sister who was bred and due to calve three weeks hence.

    We made the preparations for two cows. We brought Phoebe, the older sister, over and the two cows got reacquainted and settled in. We settled in too to wait for Phoebe to calve and get milk for the family once again. On a memorable Saturday morning about two weeks before Phoebe was due, my husband went out to the ladies their morning hay. He came tearing back into the house shouting that a calf’s leg was sticking out of the back of Pezra. Yup. She was calving. Yup. She had been pregnant all that time and none of the experts involved had any idea even though they had been examining her abdomen and udder closely. (I, on the other hand, had often gazed at her going into the shed to be milked in previous months and had thought, “Wouldn’t it be a kicker if she turned out to be pregnant?” I guess ‘market conversations’ and intuition are two very different things!)

    So we helped Pezra birth her breech calf and then two weeks later Phoebe calved pretty much on her own at which point we drowned in about 8 gallons a day of unplanned for milk. Let’s just say that I made a LOT of cheese and fast forward to the present.

    Phoebe is a practically perfect cow in all ways except that she has “silent heats.” You can’t tell when she is in heat so it is tough to get her bred. Our AI (artificial insemination) guy bred her three times and thought that finally with the third attempt that it took. We thought so too.

    We waited patiently through gestation. We recently found a due date calculator for cows and ascertained that her due date was January 23. About a week before that, her heifer went into heat (now this gal has nothing silent about her heats - she turns this place upside down sometimes) and Phoebe seemed to respond. I mean she responded more than we have ever seen her do. And we panicked. What? Is Phoebe not pregnant after all? Is she in HEAT? Now that we are so close to the due date will there be no calf and no milk? You see, it just isn’t perfectly obvious whether or not she is pregnant. It seems incredible really because pregnancy is such a huge thing for us but there you have it. For cows (as well as goats and perhaps all other mammals for all I know), pregnancy is still sacred in some mysterious, natural, inscrutable way. If you are just a friendly kind of human companion to the cow (as opposed to a super duper professional/industrial human to the cow), you can easily have no idea about something as essential and basic as pregnancy in them.

    The next day, Phoebe suddenly acted very maternal with her now 2 year old heifer. It would paint a more accurate picture to say that she was suddenly psychotically maternal. Chased our dog all over the pasture. Made that sound that cows only make to their young. Flipped out when she didn’t know exactly where her heifer was at all times. Milking time was … well, wow. Wild. We have only seen her that way once (as she is otherwise the most serene and placid cow you could ever meet) and that was when she had her heifer two years ago. She was also overdue for that heifer so … maybe there was hope. Maybe she really was pregnant after all? What a roller coaster. What crazy, crazy cow times. And then a couple of days later that behavior vanished and Phoebe was back to her old serene self and has remained so ever since.

    So here we are on February 3rd. She is 11 days past her due date - if in fact she is pregnant at all. You see, we aren’t just waiting for her to calve. We are waiting to find out if she is pregnant! That is a lot of waiting to be doing all at once, I can tell you.

    I think this is why people can be so quick to move what is naturally sacred and mysterious over to the profane, measure it, talk about it, control it category of things. Waiting is not easy. Accepting natural consequences and phenomena isn’t easy. Wondering how you are going to feed your children if the cow isn’t going to calve isn’t easy. In fact uncertainty in a faithless, ritual-less, community-starved, unnatural world is not only not easy, it is really, really hard.

    And that is where we are. We are waiting. We are waiting on the mystery whichever way it goes. And how we will move forward after that particular mystery resolves itself is also a mystery in more ways than I can even count or would want to mention.

    There are mysteries everywhere in our lives together here when I stop to think about it and such has been the case for a long, long time. I have tended to experience them as excruciating uncertainties but I think now as I am writing this that I should redefine these uncertainties for what they objectively, naturally, spiritually are -mysteries.

    Furthermore, instead of thinking of the mystery of our lives as nothing but conundrums both exhausting and bewildering, I think I must now choose to think of them devotedly as sacred. What will emerge? Only He knows.

    Meanwhile, I am keeping my eye on Phoebe.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Jan
    04

    A Few Comments on Having More Than Two Children

    Posted by pockets

    Many people who are deeply concerned with the deteriorating condition of the earth and are personally committed to changing their lives so as to have less of a negative impact upon that condition, also believe categorically that no thinking person should contribute more children to the overpopulation of humans already burdening the earth. They may relent that there are going to be people who have one or two children and perhaps that needs to be accepted. However, families like us who are riveted to the idea of living simply but who also have more than the regulation two children are considered to be, at best, anachronisms and, at worst, hypocrites.

    I noticed the other day that recently my husband and I each separately happened to partially address this belief system in other forums, each in our own way. I thought I would just post our comments here one after the other for reference. I must add, though, that the deeper spiritual reasons which guided us in our choices with regards to “family planning” and which illuminate for us the vital issue of overpopulation remain unspoken by either of us in the comments copied below. I am not sure those reasons and insights are for public consumption so I will continue to leave them unspoken for now.

    To start here is a comment I wrote in response to a question about using political pressure to reduce childbearing:

    All approaches to this subject that do not have a spiritual understanding at their base are mental machinations only and not based in a broader reality. When you think about it, it is mental machinations and living unnatural lives that got us into the large scale mess we are in to begin with. To mandate (or wish we could mandate) one more way in which people should become even more unnatural is not really a solution to the problem of overpopulation, to my way of thinking. To suggest that persuading people to deny their instinct, their longing and their responsibility to the future of lovingly being a conduit for souls to come here is as incomplete a response as those who shout that overturning Roe v Wade is the principle way to slow abortion rates. It just ain’t so. It is coming at the problem from the wrong end, the symptom end.

    To suggest that no soul/person would want to be here on earth 20 years from now is only a material analysis. From a comfort, physical body perspective that may become painfully true (and may become true even sooner than that - in fact is true for many right now) but on other levels it may not be true. Humans have created a mess here by thinking they know more than they do and ACTING on that to the detriment of all species. Yikes. It is possible that this way of thinking of having no children based on a turbulent future may be one more example of that.

    An alternative position is to know that in the future the majority of people will be suffering and clueless. We have the option of having children naturally (and “naturally” here has a very deep meaning, not the common meaning of “typical” but a meaning more like “according to original design”) and raising them to have a kind of consciousness and skill set that will give them the opportunity to serve the suffering people they will find all around them. It is conceivable that that might be a life worth living.

    It seems to me that a rule or rigid stance won’t help here but rather only a new condition can help. In other words, only consciousness, awareness, sensitivity, self-discipline, knowledge of more subtle realities, a willingness to be uncomfortable and so on can lead people to act responsibly in their own lives. Hopefully we can all find ways to encourage this in ourselves and each other. Rough words that shame people about acting naturally (when in fact the creation of babies is undertaken naturally!)will probably make them shut down and this goes in the opposite direction away from creating a condition of heightened awareness.

    In my limited, individual experience there is always more to these complexities than meets the eye or the material analysis. We have to keep digging. We have to be willing to discover or uncover an entirely new approach. I have found that this definitely applies to the very important topic of childbearing within families and humanbearing on the planet in general.

    In a forum discussing government regulation of real milk, real seeds and real farming practices, someone raised the issue with my husband of his daring to raise six children in our present world. He responded as follows:

    I agree with you that presently overpopulation is a major problem. The 7 billion mark that will be upon us in 2012 will be a disaster for the earth.

    However, I believe that the real problem here centers around man’s desire for control. People living in moderation and taking only what they need would allow the earth to comfortably sustain more rather than fewer people. In fact it is conceivable that people living in harmony and attuned to the natural path could work within natural systems to actually improve conditions for all life on the planet. Instead humanity has chosen to do its own thing and that is what has caused the overall problem.

    Nature, in fact, wants vast reproduction and abundance and is set up for it. When a species overpopulates, there are natural systems in place that assure a return to balance. Human beings have applied great efforts to overriding such natural systems and so again this has caused a great many problems.

    The problem as I see is that we don’t have a real authority figure and we are operating independently from the whole. We don’t truly believe in God and don’t put God in charge of our existence and yet we don’t follow our scientific discoveries to the letter of the law either.

    For example, science tells us that in nature only the best of a species is allowed to reproduce.
    Members of each species go to great lengths to win reproduction rights. As a homesteader I can tell you that people with livestock always breed the best of their herds to the best of their herds. Yet with humans these days, the ones with success, education, privilege, abundant food, health care and so on (i.e. the elite, the people “who rise to the top”) choose not to reproduce or to reproduce at below replacement rate at best. Therefore it is often (not always but often) the poverty stricken and uneducated people who are the ones growing the population. Often the uneducated and poor are malnourished and suffer from chemical toxicities that impair their genetic makeup. So what is happening to the human stock then?

    As a whole, we humans are not relying on God, nature or science in this matter of reproduction and population limits. Rather we are just dong what we want. In fact, we are going directly against the system that God and nature have set up for reproduction and population control which necessarily means that our species is going the wrong way. I know it is a popular view here [where this comment was posted] and in the overall progressive community that birth control is irrefutably a good thing but then where are all the progressives going to come from in the future? And beyond that, what situations are all of the higher developed humans going to be born into?

    So for these reasons, my wife and I (both of whom have Masters degrees and a variety of other things that are supposedly important) have used a different system than the one currently employed by virtually everyone we know. We surrendered our choice to the God that is within us to determine how many children we would have and have let nature run its course. We have also set the intention to keep an open invitation for higher developed souls to come into our family and we have spent the majority of our resources in providing a rich environment for them to grow up in. I cannot fully go into the benefits of this approach but my wife and I both feel that we have been greatly rewarded from approaching our family size in this way.

    There is one more thing that I want to add. Everything we humans have done from polluting the world with phytoestrogens and other pollutants to having the collective human consciousness become filled with the thought that ‘having babies is bad’ indicates the likelihood that there will be a future in which having children - especially healthy ones - will be difficult. As everything is cyclical, there will be a time in the future when conceiving and giving birth will perhaps be a much more rare occurrence than it is now. People will perhaps look back on these attitudes and approaches to having children with an anguished wonder.

    Differences between “family planning” as it is usually talked of and “Divine family planning” as is pretty much never talked of are very large issues. Becoming willing to expand the definition of living naturally and doing whatever it takes to enact that expanded definition of natural living into one’s very own life is a very large issue. The discord that arises from the set of beliefs with which humans typically analyze their world as opposed to the spiritual realities that actually govern this world is an even larger issue. In comparison to these very large issues, our comments are minimal at best and yet I thought I would share them here in case they might spur fresh thinking. For instance, I was particularly struck by my husband’s observation that we are setting up future generations to have great difficulties with trying to normalize childbearing. As such, I pray for all of us now and especially pray for future generations who will have much to deal with on all fronts, including the essential one of childbearing.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Dec
    04

    Activity Filled “My Friend Within Lesson Plan” is Our Free Gift

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    The modern human being is filled with unrealized gifts, abilities and talents.

    Given the limitations and diversions of modern day society, we do not generally receive the training and experiences necessary for drawing out the higher, more noble qualities that exist in all of us. Technology and industrialization have become crutches that have kept us from having to realize our full innate abilities. Instead we have become dependent upon man made systems and hypnotized by materialism. In fact, most of us have become “disabled” in a way because we have no working relationship with the Divinity that resides within us. Everything in our consumerist culture pulls us outward and away from our true Divine inner nature. All of our intentions, goals, and actions tend to be of a material nature while our sacred inner relationship with the Divinity within is left to wither and die.

    For this reason, my wife and I have made providing experiences, training and education geared towards forming an inner relationship with the Self or Master our top priority with regards to raising our children. We have always felt that our primary duty as parents was to provide the circumstances necessary for our children to uncover their true wealth, the Divine being that resides within them. By creating an enhanced environment through prayer, intentions, training and experiences, we are giving them the very best chance to become what they are meant to become and succeed in both their inner and outer worlds. With their inner Friend to guide them on their path, success will be assured and their true inner natures will be honored. Our ultimate goal is not to give them fish or even teach them how to fish but rather to provide them with all the tools and time necessary for them to find their “Inner Fisherman,” so to speak. With their “Inner Fisherman” in the lead, a lifetime of fishing will come to them naturally and successfully.

    Out of this inner compulsion my wife and I share, we have spent years developing spiritually based lesson plans and activities of various sorts for our children and, really, for all children. In order to make these opportunities potentially available to all children, we have published My Friend Within, and have a few more children’s books to come that are along the same lines.

    We are also now very happy to provide, at no cost, a complementary portion of our general lesson plan to people who purchase a copy of the book.

    My Friend Within cover

    Anyone has purchased My Friend Within need only email us and request the My Friend Within Lesson Plan and we will send back the 30 page pdf file of activities, games and experiences designed to nurture the innate relationship between the child and their Friend who resides within them.

    While it is true that children are born with the innate knowledge that God is within, any innate knowledge that is not triggered by models and experiences in the child’s environment will tend to lay dormant or even disappear entirely. We parents should do our best to not let that happen, especially when it comes to our children’s relationship with the Divine. It is our deep hope that as many parents as possible will get a copy of My Friend Within and use the Lesson Plan as well as develop activities of their own to further enhance this training for their children. In fact, we hope that someday nurturing a child’s inner relationship will be considered as mandatory a requirement as teaching a child to read. There is no greater gift to our children than aiding them in allowing their true inner nature to emerge into useful practice.

    Here is a five part video series featuring our now older children doing some activities from the Lesson Plan. In the first video, I talk a little more about about some of the ideas in this blog post while spending time with our cows out in the pasture.

     

    In this video, the children read My Friend Within aloud.

     

    In the next two videos, our children play The Exploration game. With their eyes closed, they use their senses, including their inner senses, to figure out what objects, food, smells and even some of our farm animals are. Even at their somewhat older ages, they still love this game and ask to play it.

     

     

    This last video is some old video clips I found. The first is of the children doing one of the circle exercises from the Lesson Plan. The second clip is from three years ago when our youngest son, then three years old, read a copy of My Friend Within back when it was called He Sits.

     

    I have watched this last video five times in the last few days and I still am filled with joy and laughter each time I see it. I wish for all parents, teachers and children to find their own joy as they connect with their eternal Friend within.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,
    Paul

    Nov
    25

    My Friend Within - Our First Bamboo Grove Press Release!

    Posted by pockets

    This is cross posted from our Bamboo Grove Press Blog.

    We are very pleased to announce our first Bamboo Grove Press book release!

     

    My Friend Within cover

    My Friend Within encourages children to follow their natural yearning to find God seated in the center or heart of all things, including themselves, and to take delight in the mysteries of spirituality. The appealing art work and simple, rhythmic text provide a gentle way to spark an awareness of what is deeply rooted inside all of us. As children embrace the idea that “God, my Friend, is within me,” they are setting the cornerstone of the foundation for their future spiritual lives. (From the back cover)

     

    Here my husband Paul Romano, author and illustrator, sits down to talk briefly about the timeless messages waiting for children in My Friend Within and why we chose this particular book to be our first publication. We feel, and it is our daily experience, that the ideas contained in My Friend Within are the single most important principles to reinforce in children in order to prepare them for a vibrant spiritual future during rocky, uncertain times.

    My Friend Within is also just plain fun and contains many opportunities for conversation and exploration. In the video, Paul talks about the fun we had as a family developing the complementary lesson plan we are offering with My Friend Within, out of our desire to support parents, teachers and children as much as we possibly can.

     

    For more information on how to purchase My Friend Within, please visit our E-store.

    We hope My Friend Within benefits your family as much as it has benefited ours and that you will join us in helping children everywhere become adults who act based upon the promptings of their Friend within.

    From the rustling leaves of the Grove,
    Leslie

    Nov
    03

    A Thought Exercise About Preparing a Survival Kit

    Posted by pockets

    After reading Chapter 1 of Swiss Family Robinson in which the Robinson family finds themselves unexpectedly stranded on a nearly sinking ship, the first project suggested in the Prepare and Pray curriculum is to pack a survival kit. Now we couldn’t afford to literally pack such a kit but it occurred to me that even just talking about what to pack in such a kit would make an excellent thought exercise. So first I read my younger children the list that the Brashears include in the curriculum and we discussed each item and why it might be included in a survival kit:

    Solar rescue blanket/space blanket
    Fifty feet of nylon cord
    Waterproof matches/magnesium fire starter
    Candles
    Plastic whistle
    Small flashlight
    Small SHARP pocket knife, or utility tool with blade of carbon steel
    Water purifier/iodine tablets
    Plastic tarp/small tent
    Metal cup/mess kit
    MRE’s (meals ready to eat), dehydrated foods (hot cocoa mix, complete pancake mix, jerky, powdered milk, TVP, ramen noodles, etc.)

    Pack minimal, nonperishable survival meals for three days to which you only need to add water and/or heat. Multiply items which require individual use according to your family size such as blankets, mess kits. Put whistles on a cord pinned with a safety pin to small children’s clothing. DO NOT hang around the neck of small children.

    A number of these things the children had never heard of so we Googled items like space blankets (which created much wonder) and magnesium first starters and I explained to them what jerky, TVP, and ramen noodles are. I then asked them to brainstorm about what other items they thought should be or could be included in a survival kit. After considerable discussion and adding and subtracting various items, they (10, 9, 8 and 6 year olds) finally added the following:

    Soap
    Camping towels
    Solar shower bag
    Very small editions of our sacred literature and pictures
    Mama’s daily medicine
    First aid kit
    Wild food ID cards
    Food mixes we make ourselves
    Safety pins (for the above mentioned plastic whistles)

    That night at dinner, I asked our older two children (16 and 13 years old) and my husband what they thought of the list so far and what they might include. My husband talked to everyone about LED flashlights and Carolyn and Rowan added the rest:

    The flashlights should be LED’s
    Insect repellent, depending upon season
    Sunblock (really necessary for me!)
    Emergen-C packets
    Compass/GPS
    Hand-cranked radio
    Any necessary documents, depending upon the type of emergency
    A change of clothes

    It was very revealing to me the kinds of items the children thought to include in a survival kit and how their minds worked over the subject. It was kind of like those homeschooling stories you read about children being schooled in some interesting literary way, say, who have to suddenly take a typical mainstream proficiency test. The parents worry about how the children will do but the children end up doing great on the test, leaving the parents in wonder at how much the children picked up they didn’t know about. So I like the way the children are thinking about the necessities of life. If I had to go through an emergency, I would be happy to go through it with them. They have good heads on their shoulders.

    The next day I came across a page I hadn’t had a chance to look at before on a web site I really like and appreciate. Thomas J. Elpel has several web sites tied together which you can enter at Thomas J. Elpel’s Web World Portal. The page I saw for the first time is here under Wilderness Survival Supplies. Here Mr. Elpel has an array of neat survival tools that are small enough to be easily carried. He notes:

    However, I’ve never liked survival kits, mostly because it is too easy to leave them behind. A good survival kit should be there for an unexpected emergency. What if you leave the kit in the glove box because you intend to stay within a few hundred yards of the car? But then you find yourself going just a little farther to see what is around the corner, and around the next corner after that? That happens to me all the time. I want survival gear that is on my body whether I expect to be in a potential survival situation or not!

    Thus was born the Always-With-You Compact Wilderness Survival Kit, featuring gear that I have on me at all times, regardless of whether I am attending a wedding in the city or hiking in the mountains. The kit includes the book 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive, which I do not carry in the field, but it clearly outlines the essentials of wilderness survival. Carry the book knowledge in your head, and the additional equipment in your pockets, and you will always be prepared.

    Go to his The Always-With-You Compact Wilderness Survival Kit page and read about all the tiny items that can do big jobs like start fires, light your way or sharpen knives. Everything there is so practical and well designed.

    Mr. Elpel’s tag line for this page reads

    The best survival kit is one that will be on you when you need it!

    So true and I would add that the best survival kit is one that will be in you when you need it which is why we are using the Prepare and Pray curriculum now. It is giving us all a chance to think together about changing times, memorize guidelines and scriptures, mold ourselves to a new life, encourage adaptability and imagination, and strengthen the habit of praying about the future and looking within for direction. The best preparation for an uncertain future is to become:

    So where is wisdom? Wisdom must be permanent. Babuji said that a fool is wise after the event but not for long. A wise man is wise during the event. He knows, and now he will not do it again. A saint is wise before the event. He doesn’t have to see to know; he doesn’t have to experience to know. Heart Speak 2004, vol. 2, p. 49 –Rev. Chariji

    We gained a great deal from approaching this project just as a thought experiment. I am sure we will gain much more from actually putting such a kit together and using it as a family. Whenever we do that, I will post again only that post will certainly have pictures. It is hard to take pictures of thoughts!

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Oct
    22

    But What Does Being “Prepared” Truly Mean?

    Posted by pockets

    Ideas about “preparedness” are getting a lot of extra traction during these days of the underpinnings of our economy and the fear of people being exposed. I even saw the article “Hard Times Have Some Flirting with Survivalism - Economic Angst has Americans Stockpiling ‘Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids’” on msnbc.com yesterday. Here are some snippets from the article:

    With foreclosure rates running rampant, financial institutions teetering and falling, prices for many goods and services climbing, and jobs being slashed, many Americans are making preparations for worse times ahead. For some, that means cutting spending and saving more. For others, it means taking a step into survivalism, once regarded solely as the province of religious End-of-Timers, sci-fi fans and extremists.

    That often manifests itself as a desire to secure basic emergency resources — what survival guru Jim Wesley Rawles describes as “beans, bullets and Band-Aids.”

    “There are a lot more people — a lot more eager people — who are trying to get themselves squared away logistically,” said Rawles, who lectures and writes books on preparing for and surviving “TEOTWAWKI” — The End Of The World As We Know It.

    “I’m getting slammed with big orders,” said Kurt Wilson, a distributor of freeze-dried foods and other provisions with decades-long shelf life, like canned meat, cheese and butter.

    “I have customers who were spending 200 bucks a month now spending $5,000 to $8,000,” Wilson said from his warehouse in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “I get little old ladies calling up, stocking up for their grandchildren.”

    Seattle survivalist Hagmahani sees such commodity hoarding as just a partial measure for weathering a financial crisis.

    On his blog, mutuallyassuredsurvival.com, he advises people to prepare for a “major paradigm shift” that will, in a decade, leave the U.S. with a Third World economy.

    He said he began his preparations after witnessing the burst of the high-tech bubble in 2001, paying off the family’s debt, moving his assets away from stocks into safer investments, including, he implies, some precious metals and offshore accounts.

    In the last three or four years, he has led his clan away from what he calls their former “yuppyish lifestyle.” They no longer eat out, cook most meals from scratch, and rarely drive their one car. They also are all learning practical skills — such as sewing, nursing and wielding a gun for self-defense.

    “One thing I’m adamant about is that each of the kids needs real skills; they can’t just be a pencil pusher,” says Hagmahani of 19-year-old Hans, Sofia, 14, and Erik, 12. “You might get lucky and get a cushy job, but you might not. You need high-tech skills and low-tech skills for dealing with a systemic breakdown.”

    Stocking up on food, lowering debt, building skills… These are all good things when done with the right attitude. As a matter of fact, I think that stocking up on food, living within one’s means and building skills used to be a pretty natural and common aspect of life. The present day idea of needing both high-tech and low-tech skills in order to deal the breakdown of the present manmade system is sound advice. But does it really constitute being “prepared”?

    Michael Bunker says absolutely not:

    One of the problems, though, with the preparedness folk, is that they do not see beyond the fundamental errors of the people. Whereas the ignorant folk say “I have no need of storing up any goods when there is a nice, shiny, clean store just down the road”, the preparedness folk say, “Yes, and I will go to that store and buy up enough food for X years”, as if they know that X years supply of food will be sufficient. In both cases, the people are relying on the store. The ignorant folk say, “the government will take care of me if I run out of food, water, or shelter”, and the preparedness folk say, “Well, I would rather rely on myself and chance”. By this I mean that neither desires to make a wholesale change in the very principles and worldview that inform their decisions. Neither desires TODAY to be dependent on God and His Word. Neither wants to give up modern comfort and modern security in order to throw themselves on a Holy and Righteous God. I’ve seen it for years.

    Many of you may not know that I was a preparedness teacher many years before the Y2K scare of a decade ago. In fact, I was teaching preparedness before I had even heard of Y2K. I finally gave up when I realized that people will prepare for events, and they will prepare for hardships - but only so long as their fundamental principles are not challenged. They will not accept the idea that the very fundamentals of their industrial/commercial society is Anti-christ, and mentally and spiritually crippling. They will not accept that the way they have chosen to live is why the system is evil and must eventually collapse. They will not accept that their perpetual 72 degree lives are designed to ease them into hell. They will prepare, so long as the preparations guarantee a certain standard of living, and say to them that they will not die hungry or thirsty, or from some horrendous calamity, and that some day… things will return to “normal”, which is to say that they will one day get to return to their lives of colonized leisure and comfort.

    So… we can see that some will not leave Sodom at all because they are Sodomites,and some will leave, but will turn back hoping it is not utterly destroyed.

    Preparedness for events is a recipe for eternal and spiritual failure.

    I am not saying you should not buy food from stores, especially when it is on sale and you have not yet developed a system of food production for yourself and your family. I am saying that you should not rely on a band-aid when you have a potentially fatal bullet wound. 10.07.2008 October Rants (or “Rants-fest”) Part 1 (You have to scroll down the page.)

    A great point. As a matter of fact, it is the most important point regarding “preparedness.” What is our internal state? How much do we understand of natural laws as opposed to man made rules? Understanding the differences and learning to live within the natural laws are the most profound and powerful preparedness measures we can take. Then at that point, we can meaningfully begin to prepare practically in our daily lives. The latter without the former is merely re-arranging the playing pieces on the same old game board when we should be switching to a different game board altogether. The real game board is entitled:

    Fix up your goal which should be ‘complete oneness’ with God. Rest not till the ideal is achieved. Maxim 3

    Once we are on the right game board of life, and we tailor our actions to that and set aside the unthinking, societal ways with which we have been indoctrinated, then we can say that we are on our way to becoming “prepared” for life in a dramatically changing world.

    As a matter of fact, we are slowly starting to add a new curriculum into The Lionsgate School program aptly entitled “Prepare and Pray!” I will be posting much more about this in the future.

    May we all prepare now for the real emergency in our lives - which is not economic but of the heart.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie

    Oct
    05

    We Must All Become “Finders”

    Posted by pockets

    I am slowly but surely putting together an herbal education program for my young students here at The Lionsgate School. I am pulling from many sources to give them an array of herbal projects, a useful body of herbal knowledge and an intuitive approach to plants, healing and nature that I hope will serve them well in the future. It just seems like the kind of experience and skill base everyone should have and so will be an integral part of our homeschool curriculum over the coming years.

    I am personally very pulled to things Appalachian and things Shaker, although it occurs to me that those two cultures are very different from each other. Never mind, both have rich herbal traditions and so have a place in my research. I was taking notes from Blackberry Cove Herbal - Healing with Common Herbs in the Appalachian Wise-Woman Tradition by Linda Ours Rago when I came across this deeply interesting and timely passage:

    The four-leaf clover brings good luck. There are faded four-leaf clovers pressed between the pages of my books and painted on my jewelry and china. I collect four-leaf clovers. I give them away, and I do have good luck.

    When I was a child I spent long warm summers with my grandmother and grandfather on this farm making gold-fringed memories. The family was a big one, with my mother nearly the eldest of twelve children, plenty of grandchildren, farm animals, dogs and cats, and wide meadows with clumps of mysterious secret woods.

    But it didn’t offer a little girl much individual attention. Grandmother Lulu Catherine was the busy matriarch running the place, plus the Methodist Church and the Democratic Party in Mill Creek Valley. Grandfather Osa was a mild gentleman who wore a hearing aid, usually switched to “off.”

    My memory vividly conjures up one afternoon when I was about five. Grandfather and I had been pottering, and we eventually ended up sitting near this very spot. He picked an ordinary clover and asked me, “Can you find one of these with four leaves?” I reached over and picked one, two, three. His eyes flew wide, he jumped up, grabbed my hand, and hauled me in to my grandmother.

    “We have a Finder?” he shouted on the way in. She put down whatever she was doing in the kitchen to see my little bouquet of four-leaf clovers. “We have a Finder,” they said in chorus. I puffed out my chest and flowed. It was my proudest moment! One of the cousins might be the pretty one, an uncle the smart one or musical one, but I was the Finder.

    When the aunts sat outside slowly fanning themselves on light summer evenings like this one, my grandmother or my mother would sometimes say tot he others, “She’s a real Finder. Watch.” Then to me, “Honey, go find a four-leaf clover.” With that kind of motivation, more often than not, I brought back a four-leaf clover or two. I was completely sure of myself. I was a Finder.

    A Finder brought pride and honor and good luck to the family, and everyone on that porch knew it. Grandmother read her King James Bible every day, but she also believed in ghosts and tokens and four-leaf clovers. She was Scotch-Irish and Welsh, and of course, Celtic, the backbone of Appalachian culture.

    Someplace in the mists between the mountains of Scotland and the mountains of West Virginia the family had misplaced its knowledge that a Finder of four-leaf clovers could see the fairies and foretell the future. A Finder was blessed with second sight, like someone born with a caul.

    My love of plants and the details of nature was with me from the beginning, but that recognition from my clan set it as unalterably as the patterns of a leaf.

    Driving home this evening I listen to a radio interview with an author about ethnobotany. His new book is about traditional plant uses that are being lost in the Amazon.

    “That is what I am,” I say out loud. “An ethnobotanist!” But my tribes are Celtic and Teutonic and Appalachian and West Virginian.

    As an herbalist and writer my passion has been finding those green tendrils curling through my own culture and place. I have stalked the few remaining old-time herbalists in the hollows, spent hours over musty books, and let the plants and mountains themselves whisper their secret language to me.

    My own culture was once nature-centered. People particularly observant and respectful of the natural world were valued and rewarded. Everyone understood it was important to live in rhythm with the seasons. So even now in our postindustrial age, somewhere inside all of us the old aunts and uncles are tugging, and we feel a little uneasy. If we are cut off from the green and the rain and the cycles, our spirits whither.

    I believe it is within the depth of our own heritage and place that we each will ultimately find the clearest vision of our relationship to the natural world.

    Now that humankind’s very survival depends upon this harmony, we must all become Finders, looking for the magical four-leaf clover. pgs. 42 – 44

    four leaf clover

    And we must all become Finders, looking deep within our hearts for the path to the natural life we are meant to live.

    From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
    Leslie