There is a very inspiring and interesting mix of people here at Plow Creek. About 25 years ago, space was at a premium here and many families lived in near by Tiskilwa, a tiny town of about 500 people until housing opened up. But when a betrayal by leadership rocked the community, many left, and houses were empty. People who said the were interested in community were welcomed to rent housing so that real estate taxes could be paid. But this often did not work out because folks ended up not really wanting community.
They have since learned a balance between being very strict–only shared purse members living on the land–and too liberal–letting just about anyone come. I am glad to hear they are more discerning about residents, but at the same time, people are here who are not full members and who don’t plan on ever being full members. Mary and Nick are two such residents.
I first heard about Mary (I am changing names because I don’t have permission from her and her husband to write about them at this moment) and her husband, Nick, when hospitality coordinator Louise said how she appreciated how much they voluntarily helped around the community. I love hearing positive gossip–and I have heard a lot of that sort of talk in the communities I have visited so far. I wanted to get to know Mary better because she works hard in a very large garden from which she gives community members much produce. When I met her a few days ago outside the guest apartment , I asked her if I could join her in working on the garden. She was happy to have help, and we agreed to meet this morning at 7am.
I got to help her put the goats in the movable fencing area where they are contained in about a 50 square foot area and they eat all the weeds in that plot. We then worked in a beautiful herb garden where I experienced herbs I had only heard about–wild bergamon, hyssop, skullcap, and more. I was very grateful to work in mostly shade and in the cool of the morning. Mary had designed a round bed with four quarters where certain herbs were planted. The soil was rich, easy to cultivate, and the weeds not too noxious. So it was easy to talk as we worked.
Heather is due to have a son in October, so we naturally talked about one of my favorite topics–child raising. I am finding that most of the young parents I have met on in Reba Place Fellowship and Plow Creek c have an attachment style of parenting–even if they don’t call it that. I feel extremely encouraged by this since Chris and Mahriyanna have been raised in that manner. Here is a definition:
“Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears, is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child’s socio-emotional development and well-being.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_parenting
Mary was very interested in my story of how we raised our children in another unusual way that is gaining more credibility–because she is drawn to this approach. Here is a definition
“Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, game play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.” from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling
I realize as I write this that my kids are living examples of both of these unusual methods of educating and child raising, and they turned out to be responsible, well-respected leaders, kind, compassionate, intelligent and very close to us parents. Being for the past 12 years largely influenced by young people and their parents at Living Springs has influenced them in many positive ways as well–including the fact that they are followers of Jesus. If young parents are interested in similar parenting and educational styles where they can be supported and encouraged, our community would be a helpful environment.
I think also that parents who want to raise their children in this way are probably going to be more in alignment with many of our values than those who want to have a more traditional, authoritarian style of parenting and also want their kids to go to school. I am just realizing this as I write, and I want to emphasize these values more on this blog.
I know parents who have had differing views on parenting and education, and their kids are doing great. I am definitely not saying “our way or the high way.” But I also know that shared values can greatly minimize conflicts. On the other hand, when values are not shared, conflicts are always going to come up.
Another inspiring topic was how Mary came to know Jesus. You know, this is always a good thing to learn about a Christian brother or sister. Everyone has a unique story that strengthens my faith. Mary grew up in a Christian home. Her parents were missionaries in France. When she went to college, she started doubting that the bible was true for various reasons. When she presented people at college with her doubts, their response was simple, “You should just believe.” She finally decided to give up going to a Christian college both because of her doubts and because her mother was ill and needed help.
Her parents were willing to listen to her doubts. She found that her mom especially was able to be present with her without being defensive. Mary finally could decide to commit her life to Christ. But I forgot to ask her how exactly she made that final decision–more food for conversation.
I always feel fulfilled when I can share with a receptive person some of my experiences that might give them more confidence along their path that they are going in what I consider to be a good direction. Although Mary is fairly confident of her and her husband’s approach, I’m sure that there will be those who challenge them along the way. It is good to know someone personally who has gone the path already.
Once again, working together plus conversing yielded a very productive time. Mary was delighted that we weeded the entire herb garden and we were both happy to know of so many shared values. Now I am very sure that if people want to come and visit, they can get to know people by working on projects where they can talk and work at the same time. The trick will be to find out what the visitor is capable of physically as well as mentally. I am fortunate to have a variety of talents that make it easy for me to fit in many places.
I can’t wait for a time when we can host people like I am being hosted. I try to encourage people at the communities I am visiting about how this is so helpful to me and they seem very glad to know that they are contributing to my well being. This is how it should be–a little bit of heaven on earth where we take joy in helping one another.