Commonweal, June 2007, part 7

 Saturday, June 20th, before dinner

Yesterday, instead of our usual circle with Lenore, we had the chance to visit the Commonweal Gardens, a mile or so up the road. The Garden was created 30 years ago, based on the work of Alan Chadwick and biodynamic agriculture and has gone through many different stages of evolution. Everything on the farm is built to inspire people how to live according to sustainable principles. Every system on the farm is based on permaculture—figuring out how to design a system that creates what it uses and recycles what it uses. Wastewater is recycled through a filter of wood chips and gravel and fed back into a pond. The chickens lay eggs and provide food. Their poop is used to keep the garden fertile. And their grazing keeps predatory insects off of the fruit trees.

While we were at the garden, we harvested kale and strawberries for our dinner. We planted starts for the healing garden. While I was standing in the shade I heard a beeping sound, like the alarm on a Casio watch. I couldn’t find the source of the sound; then I looked down and saw a small thin snake with its teeth in the hind leg of a mouse, which was far larger than the snake. The mouse was screaming in terror; that was the beeping sound I heard. I called the others over and we watched over the course of several horrible, gripping moments as the snack unhinged its jaws and began to slowly devour the mouse whole. It screamed until it was completely encased in the snake, a living lump slowing being digested. It was a dramatic expression of nature.

After lunch (baba ganoush, home made falafel salad, tahini dressing, Israeli cous cous salad), I got to do a second sand tray. I had woken up in the morning with a sand tray image in my mind—a giant mound of wet sand. At the top was a heart. Crawling up the sides of the mound were babies. Strewn at the bottom of the mountain were things that had to be discarded for the journey. That was image I began with.

I went right to the wet sand tray and began sculpting my mountain. I worked in silence, in absolute concentration. Each area of the edge of the sand tray represented a different pathway toward the top of the mountain. One corner held a pile of shit, a pair of open handcuffs, a man with his mouth covered, unable to speak, and other symbols of violence and trauma. A large woman figure, solid and substantial held her arm up, holding these forces at bay. The handcuffs had been opened, a bridge led from this area to the base of the sand mountain where a ladder scaled the side.

Near this was another pathway, full of trees and objects from nature and huge glass flower and pearl. Here, too, was a ladder up the sand mountain.

Another corner featured the same large stone broken heart I’d used in my first sand tray. Out of it was an egg with a baby reptile emerging and then a human baby crawled toward a beautiful gateway and then another ladder, heading up.

A row of small clothespin people, representing my community, stood by a beautiful stone wisdom symbol. Another ladder began upwards from their feet.

Another area featured a hospital bed and a sick looking patient. From this place of illness, another ladder led up the mountain.

Then there was the hermit in his cave, another repeating figure, and beside him, a glass Buddha. From their feet, another ladder going upwards.

The last ladder came from a series of figures, a pregnant woman, a birthing woman, a baby figure and then two figures representing Eli (an origami crane) and Lizzy (a wooden figurine) halfway up the mountainside.

In the last corner was a fenced off area. Inside it was a music stand, a bookcase, a series of books (representing my own), an open heard with tons of tiny people pouring out (my readers), a computer receiving email, a telephone and other accouterments of daily life—all needing to be left behind, contained in order to take the journey.

At the top of the mound of sand was the final destination, a beautiful mirror heart with a nest on it, and inside the nest a figure emerging outside of an egg and a heart.

I titled it, “Journey’s End.”

I absolutely love sand tray. It is a passionate, easy way for my soul to speak clearly. I felt high as a kite when I was done.

And then we had dinner: fresh salmon, perfectly cooked. Three kinds of vegetables. Fresh bread.

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