Gathering 2001 - West Coast Style

Cynthia Cutting
For me, this year's gathering was notable for what DIDN'T happen. We had no plan, and we pretty much kept it that way. We didn't spend much time talking about the state of the Organization... we didn't have more than one thing going on at any given time, so no one had to choose between enticing offerings... we didn't schedule much in the afternoons, so it was possible to nap and not miss something - and nap most of us did! It was a peaceful time together in a beautiful setting in a beautiful way.

The folks at Lost Valley were very welcoming. Russ, especially, provided nurturing support in a number of ways. He made sure each of us was comfortable, he put together a blessed inipi wherein several of our number were able to experience their first sweat lodge ceremony, and he even provided for each of us a list of the names and addresses of those in attendance. Best of all, he let us Be. And Dianne Brause once again invited women (and baby Richie) to her yurt for a moon lodge experience for most of those who did not participate in the sweat lodge ceremony.

Russ also provided his space so we could view the video together. Picture a rustic cabin... picture a main room that is mostly a HUGE bed (a mattress on the floor, with lots of pillows)... picture approximately sixteen people and one amazingly quiet wee one puppy-piling while we watched Kelly Hart's interview with Danaan and once again tuned into the Well energy... and of course there were Marla's delicious chocolate chip cookies to share after all that energetic THINKING generated by the conversation in the video.

Throughout the Gathering, Danaan's thoughts about the Well of Knowing and his vision for the future were interwoven with our various ponderings. And ponder we did. Throughout the weekend we circled and we asked questions, and more questions... and we listened for the answers, and answers came, but the overall sense was that it was the questions which fueled us. It was agreed that we'd like to continue to begin gatherings with the viewing of this video - it's an excellent way to gather our energies for our time together.

Because we were just sixteen in number (plus baby Richie, age 9 months), we were able to meet in the Naka-Ima classroom, a definite plus. Rita Froesch, Ursel Kammann, Gary Herring, Judy Love, and Linda Lemen had taken part in the Naka-Ima the weekend before our gathering, and Jim Brende and Rich Sommers were assistants at that Naka-Ima, so it turned out that almost half of the people at the gathering had in one way and another experienced the Naka-Ima time together, either this year or last. I never quite know how to refer to Naka-Ima - it's much more than a workshop or a retreat or a class or... whatever. It's Naka-Ima - an experience we have together and with Spirit and with ourselves which goes deep and stays with us, working its wonders in our lives.

In addition to the Naka-Ima participants our gathering included Mary Anderson, Alan Berick, Michael Epstein, Lake Fantz, Suzanne Holland, Leslie Lightfall, Samuel Ready
and Marla Sommers and little Richie, whose angelic presence added a wondrous dimension to our time together.

Highlights: For me, my favorite image is the big sheet of paper with the three-day schedule on it - there were things written in for Friday, but Saturday and Sunday remained blank except for the mealtimes and the inipi and Moon Lodge gatherings, which occurred on Saturday night. Blank is beautiful!

At the outset we talked about what we'd like to experience together, and we wrote everything down, and by Sunday we could see that while we hadn't really scheduled anything, we'd pretty much done everything on the list in one way and another. Ursel had taught us some wonderful circle dances, Leslie had taught us to pivot physically from one mood to another, and to make sacred sculptures out of a group of interested circling ones... Suzanne and Leslie had sung for us and we all sang off and on throughout our time together... and we all shared about what we wanted support for in our lives, and we held the support energy for one another.

It is not really possible to communicate the essence of this gathering - the intimacy, the way our energies harmonized until it was hard to tell who we were sitting next to - man, woman - no matter ... a circle of friends, listening together...

And now it's Tuesday morning, and the gathering energy is still with me. Things I experienced there at Lost Valley are still clear ... this morning when I woke up I thought I was still in my bed in the dorm. I can still feel the touch of peoples' hands in the circle. I can still see Ursel's elfin smile and taste the Swiss chocolate candy which Rita provided one evening. I can hear Suzanne exclaim with delight upon finding a geranium plant during the giveaway time... it was such a joy to have Suzanne with us. She may not have eyes to see with, but she manages to help ME see things more clearly. And watching baby Richie select his giveaway gift was a real tickle - we all have much to learn from wee ones, that's for sure.

And now Rita and Ursel are en route to the Bay Area for another experience, and the special Gathering candle holder is in Rita's luggage, no doubt sharing space with more bags of Swiss chocolates... and when the circle comes together again at the European gathering, this little candle holder, which is sculpted of terra cotta clay and consists of five sweet figures holding hands around a candle, will be holding the light for that gathering... and then it will go to the east coast for the fall circling, once again linking us all together, in the Light.

We have tentatively scheduled the second weekend in August for the West Coast Gathering in 2002. We'll keep you posted. Have a blessed summer, everyone - and whenever you happen to think of it, close your eyes and tune into the Circle. It never ends, you know, and even if your bodies weren't with us at Lost Valley, you were sharing the Circle with us. The Circle is our "work" ... Blessed Be.

Much, much Love to all. ... Cynthia Cutting
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