My Faith Journey (Part 1)
Dear Pastor, Tom,
Thank you for inviting me into Wesley.
The story of how important, I feel this is to my life, really starts before we met. When I was 18 years old, I spent part of a morning at the bus stop beside the hostel, on the main street through Honokoa’a Hawaii, waiting for the 10:00 bus to Kona; where I thought maybe, in the material world apart from this wild I’d thrown myself into, I might find work to in my mind believe I was creating some sort of life for myself. I had just found myself alone in the jungle with a man who was struggling in a way that scared me. At that age, I couldn’t understand. I’d felt the ocean wind whip the side of the mountain while taking a cold shower on rotted wood, at the back open wall of a three walled barn filled with insect hives and horded belongings while a sheep eyed me from a few feet away. I’d been exhausted from hedge-cutting grasses that stood taller than me all day, and ate undercooked meat from a nasty dark single oil lantern lit kitchen in a night. I was scared of where I’d found myself and decided to leave after only a week. I was further from home than imagined myself possibly getting to. While I waited on the daily bus from the Humaka’a coast to Kona, the church bells started ring at the Honaka’a Methodist church across the street. Being 18 years old and overwhelmed by the constantly changing and new experience of travelling alone, I didn’t really make a choice in this moment. I called my mom and asked her what to do. “Should I go to church and see if that leads to any sort of opportunity or get on the bus to Kona as I was planning.” She responded, “Go to church. Always stay close to the church no matter where you go.” This was really good advice, but I couldn’t see what her advice really meant yet.
It wasn’t until I was 22 in the late winter or maybe it had already turned to spring when I decided to ajourn from living in my car in Wesley’s parking lot to walk into the church and see what was happening; when I first spoke with you, and you offered Wesley as a place for me to stay and shower and store my food, and all together spend my time, that the reality of what this small advice from my mother, some years earlier, really was in the great scheme of time and to the course my life would take. I when I reflect now, I see that I’d done it regularly in traveling and it had saved me more than once, but then, my decisions weren’t by any reason really, more of a gravitational nature. But after the two years that I lived in and out of the church, for me, I would begin to see. It would be as if my mothers decision for me to attend Honoka’a Methodist Church’s service that Sunday, was a core defining moment to me becoming me. Only then, in my development, I was far from the chuch, I hadn’t been to church in years, though I’d grown into my early teens at Wesley and beyond that with Summer church camps. I wasn’t thinking spiritually. I was childish, thinking of everything that a church was apart from being God, himself, manifesting in the discussion of his loyal people. My vision was then totally of worldy ways. To me, the church was simply a congregation of people that might know something of how to piece together a way for me in Hawaii, how I could apply myself to my ambitions of networking displaced people to where they could best be, through experiencing life authentically and understanding what existed, through travel. That was my mission at 18, in visiting Hawaii. I followed her advice, that morning, and went to church.
The service didn’t lead to anything. I spent a day volunteering at a Methodist retreat, using a hedge cutter to shape the retreats eight foot grasses. I ate my dinner from fruit trees around where I’d worked, though I didn’t know how to crush the nuts I’d picked. I had nowhere to sleep that night, but I had enough money from my careless decision of letting go of everything I’d had to [put myself on the Big Island with the hope of have figured how was a better way to live from my parents living rooms. From that, I was able to afford a room in Honoka’a’s rugged hostel, that night. What a weird, lonesome, distant experience it was for my first experience so far from home or family. I decided that visiting the church hadn’t really led to anything, though if you asked me to share the whole story of that day, I had more than one, one time experience that would absorb minutes of your time. I decided, “I’m definitely getting on the bus to Kona in the morning.” The next day I found a seat on the 10a.m. but next to man holding an acoustic guitar. It buzzed as I bumped it sitting down with my hiking pack, beside him and he didn’t really respond much as I apologized. As the bus emptied, while all the daily cross island travelers, made their exits, seats opened and I took over one of the two seat spaces that had cleared across the isle. As I sat the watching the pacific island pass the window with music in my headphones; I received a call from my father. He asked me, “Where are you staying tonight?” I responded, “I’m not sure. I’ve put out some individual requests on couchsurfing.org and I’ve an open couch request for the Kona area. I’m hoping for the best.” As I shared this in my cellphone, the man in the seat in front of me turned his thick-locked hair, greasy blond and jungle weathered head 180 degrees like an owl and said, “You’re welcome to stay at our place tonight, man. We’re having a party.” So I spoke to my dad in my phone. “I guess I just found a place to stay tonight.” That night was amazing, so much that I felt, that at that time in my life, I wasn’t actually worthy of staying longer than the invited, night. Though, I should have asked to. I cut Avocados for the dinner and all the farms in the area gathered to dance and play music and celebrate life. I can’t absorb too much of your time with details to keep to the point of this letter.
After hitchhiking away the morning, and returning to Missouri soon later, to try again a girlfriend and finish high school by working full time at Dandelion Preschool and volunteering at Belair Elementary and fulfilling the GED program through Missouri Options and JCAC Alternative School, I received my diploma and at about the time of graduation, the man who had invited me home from that seat infront of me, when my dad called as I crossed the Island, who I’d have never met if I hadn’t gone to church the day before, got in touch with me through social media, saying, “Do you remember the self sustainable community we talked about creating in Vermont on Lake Champlain? We’ve started work in Vermont. I’d love to have you out to document the project.” Since I’d been working full time and I was well backed financially, I bought all the bust camera equipment I thought I might need that I could carry with me and I bussed out to new Hampshire where I couch surfed around and met up with gamer friends I’d played online games with through highschool, before bussing the rest of the way to my specific destination of Voorheesville, New York where this 23 year old, greasy headed organic farm built hippie who I’d just seen for a couple days half the planet away, half a year earlier met me with this “OMG I’ve only seen you once before and it was so far way.” Sort of awe of recognition bear-hug. I was uplifted my love and this great leader, with the astrology of a fool, gave me an experience I will hold onto forever. I spoke always of leading by example. When we finally made it to the island, he would take runs on a path around the shoreline each day. And when we first me, he drove me out to the local Summer Solstice festival on Renee Vankurens farm, to spend three days camping there and experiencing a sort of Woodstock environment with live music and free meals of the solstice so I could meet the other guys I’d be on the island with. We played frisbee, and passed marijuana around in circles of more than 10 people. I remember one moment of this three day festival experience, when I sat in circle of sustainability-mad, radical well adorned people, enjoying themselves on the grass beyond the backs what line of folding chairs and standing dancing people stood before the stage where some witch band was playing. In this moment I sat in a circle of people on the farm’s lawn, directly beside Jason. Jason is the dude I’d met in Hawaii, who was now leading me. I was watching him intently, very much at peace and in the current moment, aware as an individual, young, not abstracted in the least. As I watched him, he was pensive, rolling a green speckled polished stone in his palm. As I watched, my thinking understood this stone like the world. This man who’s leading me here, and who I’m going to see build his dream which I determined separately is also mine; is holding the world in the palm of his hand and thinking. I saw this vision for a moment before he looked up from the stone to my face, held it at his fingertips a bit higher and with my ball player nature, dropped the stone into my catch, saying “It’s yours.” Just as I’d felt that I wasn’t good enough to stay at their house in Hawaii, that it was too magical a place and I wasn’t worthy. I felt overwhelmed by this moment. To me, I had just watched a man contemplate the world in his palm, this was no mere stone, this was everything. And I was following him. I was a child alone, and in loving company. I didn’t want control. I wanted to ride along and see success happen naturally. I didn’t want to push myself to be strong, I wanted to be weak and in a natural place of comfort where I served a thoughtful purpose to the friends surrounding me. I wanted to be provided for. I was not ready for the world to be mind. I immediately returned it to him, saying. “I can’t take this”. It’s funny he looked like he didn’t quite understand.
So that story goes on a much further adventure too, but for this letter, the point is. This direction of my life happened and everything after it was so distinct because I chose God, though not yet knowing it. I simply responded to the church bells ringing at the Honoka’a Methodist church, that one Sunday in January of 2012.
I went to college in August of the next year at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri. Then, the event of a discovery, experience with my old friends over Thanksgiving Break from College, where we ate LSD, left me in an absolutely mad state towards the grading system and the broken potential of achieving ones life through our school system, and I stopped doing my work and then left, really, very much, damning myself away from the academic world. I didn’t have anyone in my life who knew how to talk me through to the truths of the realities I was comprehending about my circumstance of existence. By the values instilled in me from a much younger age, by the church, I went mad over it.
I’m trailing on some because it’s why took the path I did, but my goal is for you to know when you’re finished reading this explanation of the effect of me choosing God, how deeply important I’ve found your gift of inviting me into the church. I simply want to be closer and closer to the holy spirit, no matter where I am. There’s nothing I’m more grateful for in all the humbling of my journey. I see more and more, that God is what I want more than anything, and the spirit of his sermons and his discussion, is what brings me back to myself and I can’t stray far because it’s so evident to me that I’m so much better, when keeping close, even if it hasn’t amounted to more than a regular suffering. It’s simply what I am most thankful for in my suffering.
So I fell away from school again. I sent out work exchange requests to radical creative projects through workaway.info and couchsurfing.org around the nation in a sort of shallow faith idea that this randomness might lead me. The first one that responded to me with a secure living arrangement was in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I was to help with building projects and teach so children the basics of playing guitar. I packed what I could carry and jumped, discovery Ski City, USA (Home of more Winter Olympians that anywhere else) for the first time. I surfed on from the work exchange, to work at the local bakery as a helper and delivery driver and live with one of my co-workers and some 6 other people who hit the slopes and worked the ski lifts on the mountain daily. All 8 or so of us lived in a two bedroom flat in the mountain village for some months through ski season and they wouldn’t even accept rent from me. Tina got mad when I tried to pay. We swapped some awesome books and in the eb and flow of everything I surfed on out of Ski City nearing the end of the season to spend a week or so on a couch in Georgia with someone I’d met in a bus station who’d been talking to me through the phone and encouraging me to just come hang out for awhile, just relax out here and have fun. So in Albany, Georgia I surfed around from this dude’s place out to his best friends parents house, where they had some preacher on their television in the background about 3 days before I was scheduled to bus out of Georgia. The preacher said something that pretty much defined my almost directionless state and pointed at the camera stating, “You need to go to church.” I was about to arrive in Austin Texas, to see what it was like to be a young (19 year old) song writer in the city with the current reputation, like old Nashville and Memphis or L.A. Me, Johnny-boy, with the guitar. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got to the city. I would surely be very low on cash, just what was left from my last couple checks from the Bakery in Steamboat Springs, and I wasn’t even thinking about the applications I’d sent Austin while still in Steamboat, I was totally flustered and immersed with this place I was in, in Georgia. I decided, I’m going to do that. Just what the preacher said. I’m going to go to a church as soon as I get off the bus in Austin. There might have been some embedded feeling of love that the connotation of churches had to me. Maybe always, because I went to Sunday school and sat with my family in the pew as and knee high and waist high, and maybe even an elbow high child, and because my father would sit my bed at night and talk to me before saying a prayer and giving me a final tucking in. Maybe church camps instilled a deeper spirit in the connotation of the church to me too. Even after years apart and in crowd that didn’t only disagree, but didn’t even support the church as a concept, alone on my journey, then, something in me gave power to that advice and the advice took hold. It didn’t simply sound good. I did exactly what the preacher said. I made a mission of it.
Three days later I arrive in Austin Texas. I stepped off the Greyhound. I stepped onto the city bus. I counted churches as they passed the window of the bus, thraveling across town; sizing them up, “is this one my church, maybe that one. Maybe I’ll do the full bus route and come back.” I passed a bunch of churches, stone churchs, quiet churches, little house like churches. I noticed a lot of churches before seeing a sign outside one in the east or south city, I don’t quite remember what lost point or bus line I decided to jump from. The church was not really one that would probably attract me initially as an other more traveled person. It was about a block from an interstate overpass on the other side of which was a Whataburger and beyond the whole neighborhood was very much just filthy nasty urban, but I was young and when I stepped of the bus and my snow boots hit the sidewalk, I was overwhelmed and couldn’t see or comprehend any of these surroundings or what they would mean to the uncertainty of what lay ahead of me. What pulled me in was the church’s sign, which read “Keep Austin Weird.” I didn’t really know what this meant or what it meant to Austin or that it was sort of like the city’s slogan and slogan for a number of cities, but I liked the sort of open minded idea of the statement and I was maybe feeling like I’d passed too many churches already and needed to simply pick one and go; so I forcefully pulled the string to stop the bus and stepped onto the side walk with my hiking pack and guitar case. Then I crossed the street and strolled right up through little church’s double front doors, to a bench in the parlor area, before the sanctuary doors. There was clearly a sermon taking place in the sanctuary. I was shy. I wanted to be quiet, I was young and didn’t have the fascination that I’ve developed to actually comprehend the sermon or the place I was in. I was exhausted from days in greyhound stations. I had no idea where I was or what was going to happen. I sat there as the advice I was following, my mission in that moment, was simply to be there. I sat to simply experience the foreign moment passing. The service let out. Most of the congregation ignored me. They mingled to each other as congregations do after church in the hall, filtering out through the doors to their cars. One man noticed me sitting at the wall with my hiking pack and guitar leaning against me. He approached me, wanting to know of my state. Why did I have a hiking pack? As a fatigued traveler and an overwhelmed child (19) to who, this was all new beyond excitement, happening; I did my best to answer his questions and tell him what weird choices (weird = concerned with or controlling fate or destiny) had led me to being there with him in that moment. He guided me through the conversation. As it turned out, he had recently been homeless in the area and now lived with his wife in a tent in a friends yard. He showed me where I could stash my belongings beneath the floor boards of the church’s garden shed. He introduced me to the pastor. The pastor was a very dark skinned African American preacher. He sat me at a tall table in the lobby and spoke to me similarly to how I’d once receive teaching from missionaries on the ocean front in Kona. When I shared my name, Andrew, he said “Ah, that’s a biblical name.” This was the first time, this connection was ever made to me. He said, “Do you know who Andrew was in the Bible?”
I responded, “No.”
“He was the first follower of Christ.” I said so little through his share of what he wanted to explain to me as this skinny, young, lost, traveler who had made the weird decision to sit on the bench in his deep-random-course, churches, lobby upon entry to the city. I was so exhausted, I was only just really taking things in, I noticed more the spirits of the people and the tones of their skins and carpet and the furniture and the shape of the room and the fact that conversation was so beyond me in my exhaustion, than the real deeper meanings of what he shared at the high table with me. Before he let me go, as the day drew longer, toward my first night, ever outside, on the streets of a real city. He gave me a heavy gold coin. On one side of the coin was the engraving of an angel. On the other side of the coin the words, “His Angel’s with protect you wherever you go” were engraved. The pastor wished me well. I stored my belongings beneath the floorboards of the garden shed where I’d been shown. OH! What a relief whenever you finally are able to set down that weight! And under a small overhanging roof, my back leaned into the bricks of the nook, in back of the church, and what had been building through exhaustion and amazement and relief, finally was comprehended by my emotions. I was relieved of the weight on my back, I was relieved of the uncertainty of where I was going, I was relieved by finding myself in community and my spirit lifted and not alone that night. I was really put at peace and in that peace behind the church I saw how lost I trully was in time, how alone I was and how foreign everything before me was and how powerless I could really possibly be found to it and within it, I was saved. I was saved in its happening, with a the memories of every time I’d written angel without any real spiritual intent beyond that other than the reasoning that “Savior” was to cliché and ”Hero” might have been a good name and on this night that word, “Hero”, was spray painted on the bricks across the grass from me, behind church, as the deepest cry finally formed tears in my eyes. I thought, powerless, alone in time, scared, and in so many ways saved for this moment, with a shuttering heart, grateful, turning this gold coin over in my hand on which was engraved and angel and a promise. I’ve never cried harder and I hope I can communicate what that means.
And awe, that night I climbed to the shelf under the interstate overpass with some older homeless folk I’d met. There were 4 or 6 lanes of traffic going under it. I sat awake most of the night, still exhausted, watching at an older boy who the old homeless man I was following, told me everyone calls “The Ghost”. The Ghost was taunting traffic all night, a maniac. The old fellow told me he was a writer by trade and simply preferred to live under the bridge. He said The Ghost grew up with his grandma who was a heroine addict and now he just lives outside and makes an art of taking items from all over the city and piling them together in other places where they don’t belong. He’s chaotic, homeless. That’s what he does.
The next day a storm came that I wasn’t prepared for. Austin was drenched in freezing rain. With my stuff under the garden shed, the church’s preschool left it’s door unlocked for the nights of a week in freezing rain, I squatted there, setting my phones alarm to be out before anyone knew, I survived that week, maybe they knew. Later in the week there was an N.A. meeting there in the evening which I just listened in on (at 19, I’d never really had anything to do with drugs or alcohol). They were talking about the necessity of helping each other. Id just been contacted by an employer I’d reached out to while still in Steamboat Springs and I had an interview in the morning. I wanted to shower and shave. I really needed it. I expressed the possibility of what could be if I could have a place to be for that night. Just for that one night, and older gentleman of the N.A. group, let me stay at his retirement community in his apartment space there, on the floor, so I could get cleaned up. The next day, my interview went great. I got the job. Within a week, a couch surfing host got back to me and I had a four bed room apartment that I was actually welcomed home to for the next two months while I started working my new job at the Historic Driskill Hotel. While I surfed there, one of the roommates moved out and I took over the empty, furnished bedroom. South by Southwest festival happened while I was staying with my host and his roommates. Only one roommate was really ever present, and he became 10 times more of a friend for me than my host, though my host was clearly well thought, and admirable in his way. He was busy doing his own thing, he hosted two other surfing parties, a band, performing at the festival, and another traveler, and he picked up a gig for that time as The Big Bang Theory main character cast’s personal chauffer for the time of the festival. I remember a blood moon happening while I was there, and I stepped out to the balcony to observe. After two months, I’d earned enough money at my new job and rented myself my own place. I spent a year, then living in Austin, TX and that’s how it happened, but it wasn’t an intense understanding to me yet, about how good my mom’s advice was, or why any of that what possible for me; that I survived that week of freezing rain or was able to succeed with my interview. The experience of meeting Jason in Hawaii and then working with him in Vermont and New York the next Summer had ridden my heart in longing. It played a huge role in me ever going to Steamboat Springs or Austin, and ultimately it was that day when I missed the first bus to instead attend church, that defined the course of the rest of my life. This decision had more occurrences for me yet, before I really started to see that it actually is that decision that has been guiding me the whole way through.
My experience at Wesley: (you brought me back.)
Two nights before Christmas, when I was 22 years old, I brokenly left my mothers house in Olathe Kansas, driving across Missouri to Jefferson City, where I considered, my home, though I’d no specific place of residence. I drank a small bottle of light, six percent wine as I drove down the winding side highway, highway 50 across Missouri.
Some piece of my past directed me to go to the church I’d grown up in, for a parking lot to sleep in my car in. The nights there fogged my back windows. There was another person sleeping in the church’s parking lot that winter. He drove a pickup truck and we never inter-acted, but we coexisted in the lot each night, wakefully at peace with each other, both residing in our vehicles.
I slept in my car outside the church, each night for some time, and at some point, maybe nearing spring; I decided to venture into the church to see what was happening. I’d never met Tom, who was the current pastor. Tom was at the front of the church just past the parlor, where the offices are. I nosed in and he welcomed me. He clearly had some understanding that I’d been raised in the churches youth group, though I’d fallen out of faith and community for some recent years past my parents divorce. He invited me to use the church to it’s full potential. “Sleep inside” he said. “You can sleep in the pews or on a couch in the library or the basement. We have cots for lock-ins that you could use. Or really, sleep where-ever you feel comfortable; but come in. Use the showers. You can store your food in the youth groups fridge. Make as much use of the space as you can.” And so, with Pastor Tom’s invitation, I became the first and only resident of Wesley United Methodist Church in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Some of the vibes that would pass through my homespace at the church, made me uncomfortable, so I would take to sleeping in a tent on the lawn, instead of in the building, or I would leave for some weeks or a month or two at a time to vacation out of my microcosm, there. Then I’d return, gratefully and possessively. This church was my home. The place was mine and I treasured the whole experience of being the church’s host. I cleaned the whole building for a small hourly pay, which I attempted to minimize as much as I efficiently could. One of the other cleaners of the church would arrive sometimes in the middle of the night to clean. There was also a girl in praise band who would show late at night to passionately immerse herself in her projects between the sanctuary and the church offices. The band itself would rehearse regularly into the night and every day something was happening in the community there. I stretched and exercised alongside an elderly crowd of women every 3rd or 5th day of the week, gradually began attending bible studies. I looked forwards to waking each day. I’d open the front doors from inside the fellowship hall or the parlor while the dew was still wet on the grasses and the hawk, which I’d named “Bartholomew Coven” would be at his mornings rest atop the lots lights, eyeing the grasses of the lawn and the community gardens depths for prey to kill. I’d boil water on a burner in the kitchen, to myself, and pour it over coffee grounds while listening to my interests online, or let a fresh pot of drip coffee trickle in the fellowship hall, as it would any Sunday morning, while I sat at the café, there, open to whoever would show in the mornings at the church. In the Summer the youth group would show about this time and pass me, unacknowledging in their own purposes together. Oh my God, for two years of my life, this experience was mine. I was blessed. I was the resident and caretake of a lively church, though, somehow very alone in my experience as that.
I placed a table onside of the fellowship hall with a chair at it. The chairs back was to the wall and the table was close before me when I sat there, so that I was looking out at the ball room, openly. I would bounce between this table and one in the café across the room, and sometimes the table of an empty Sunday school room, or the youth group’s space in the basements as a workspace, progressing and description of my ideal for a way of life, or a culture, that aligned the people’s way of existing with their deeper moral values, which I was constantly being stimulated, regarding, through bibles studies and Sunday School discussions. For the whole time I stayed at the church, this lifestyle-ideal-description was my obsession aside my youthful immersion in my life there. It’s so beautiful to me to look back on how, “in-the-moment”, I always was there: whether I was googling a questions about my business model, or smiling to the greeters on Sunday morning, passionately holding discussion with my Sunday school class or sharing what I’d been enlightened to through bible study on the phone with my lady, or entertaining my her when she’d visit my brainstorming space while I’d had it arranged about the basement, or when taking a walk across the town to the dharma, or Heartsburg Bike Shop, or just to the open spaces to be out and cut free for awhile. I was always present in my time, there. That presence is such a luxurious adornment to one’s life time when it can be had.
I would work at the table onside the fellowship hall passionately for the good part of a day, when I wasn’t tending to the responsibilities of cleaning the halls. One or two people would exchange with me, vocally as they passed. Maybe four would pass without saying anything. Sometimes a whole group of ten would pass with the youth group, unsure of me and to themselves.
Night would fall. The offices would empty mid-afternoon. Evening events would open. Jefferson City Toastmasters would fill the fellowship hall once a week in evening and I took to joining them for fun. Some of the older members had once acquainted my parents and for that, they smiled at me being there. Many evenings there would be families or couples in the community gardens on the hill out front of the church. Residents of the neighborhood would walk through the parking lot, neighboring children, teens, and adults as old as grandparents would be in their driveways, or on porches and on the streets surrounding the churches grounds, conversing over their evening smoke or younger; playing basketball, riding bikes and scooters and using whatever product of ones imagination a child might have. The parking lot sat level, 30meters downhill from the community garden and a grassy field alongside HWY 179 where the churches sign read of letter square, current happenings. Not everyone who owned a garden plot, was with the church. People would park in the lot and garden while the sun was in low descent, and the pass me where I resided, in the lot playing with my skateboard or meditating at the curb, when they’d depart. I wasn’t really connected in any depth to these people, but something of their passing comforts me so much in their memory and in the emotion that I feel for the whole experience, I see that it must have had some comprehensive value to me in the moment, anyhow, there were all the people alongside me where I existed somewhat irrelevantly.
With the medicine tribe: (I began to see Christianity as a very special piece of my identity,)
During the Summer of 2018 while I was returned to Wesley after living in a subsidized housing experience in St. Martins for some months and then staying with my older brother, Ryan Rector, in his emerging life a well-to-do area of Nashville. Wesley was my irreplaceable, incomparable, righteous home. Some months after my return, I stumbled in-link with Lion and Moon again; who I’d met at the previous spring’s Medicine Tribe Gathering and been inspired by their creative vision for the direction our lives could pursue.
Moon had stated to me, “You know what’s really happening here, don’t you?” She was speaking of what gatherings really were as a time of the host community sharing and promoting their sustainable practices and using the man power of gathering forces to built onto their living spaces, extra quick; which is deep purpose, relevant to our individuals dreams, the experience of gathering together with crowds before performers every night that you can hear a quarter mile down the evergreen lined, northern Tennessee, side highway. Their vision was that this gathering experience is a “Circus” of “Purpose” coming together. When Moon defined this to me in the school house, which I’d just helped shingle with stenciled tire-scraps, I thought “Wow you really just brought everything together into one really deep concept! Well done!” Her dream of a traveling Circus of Purpose, Circus troop remained with me in my own foresight of what I wanted of life. That was in May of 2018. I then spent that Summer, staying at Wesley, helping with my Church friend’s campaign for State Representative and obsessively furthering my plans for my company culture in accordance with the development of a non-profit concept, the Circus of Purpose. I had no idea of any way to be in touch with Moon or Lion or their troop, but I had some deeper knowing, unconsciously that I was holding to. That, holding onto their dream and doing what I could to push for it on my own would be worth while. I knew I would see them again and I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was simply devoting myself to Moon’s objective, The Circus of Purpose. I knew through some magic of time, we’d meet again and I was going to have so much to share to help with Moons personal ambition. How it happened that we did meet again, was amazing. I’d forgotten that I’d shared my work with Moon, through email when her troop couch surfed with me at my brother, Ryan’s, in Nashville, after the gathering. Past that unreasonable, subconscious faith that we’d see each other again in supernatural, unexpecting, global occurrence, there was the email connection we’d made when I’d shared with her what I’d yet scripted of my company-culture-model from Ryan’s Kitchen while she and her troop of 5 treated me to the most Elegant Salmon, dumpster feast. I’d forgotten that we’d shared, but because we’d shared, her channel came up unexpectedly, 4months later, in my YouTube stream, in link with my email. Wow! I’d found Moon’s you-tube channel where she was posting song videos of her playing acoustic guitar and singing in places like fields and forests, aside gardens, at festivals, in front of city fountains, on dirty curbs, in Vanlife-vans and on tiny house-buses; singing “Good things are happening” in the most fame-worthy way. I followed her channel and commented extensively on her video’s, quoting her from the day she told me about her Circus of Purpose idea. She replied, “Is this Drew?” The next day I was able to send her everything I’d put together for her project, that Summer at Wesley. She responded that the next step was definitely to work together in person and that there would be another gathering in October, this time at Sage Valley outside Worthington Indiana. I packed a hiking pack and bussed as close as I could get to the gathering. My taxi pulled to a stop in front of Brandon and Mackenzie’s family home, weeks early. I hadn’t realized, this community was a very young pilot project and nobody was living there other than Brandon’s family, who owned and cared for the land. Brandon Welcomed me. We chatted disconnectedly while he fished in his pond. I supported him by mowing the fields in preparation for the gathering. I spent most of those weeks before the event, seeking peace by running the hills of county roads and exploring the nearby town. If you’ve never been there, half the community is Amish and the forest has never been logged so it’s all so clean and healthy and old. The rest of the town who isn’t Amish has this cute way of driving golf carts instead of cars. From the weeks I was alone exploring Worthington, I met a number of the villagers. When I finally got up to go to church in the morning at Folsom Methodist Church, I found that all the people I’d met around the town were in the congregation. I was overwhelmed by the whole crowd of the 20 or so people I’d met, all being present and in the room with me, so I stepped out during the sermon. A middle-aged Christian man, Jay, stepped out to ask if I was okay. We had a great talk and he offered to let me do laundry and shower at his place. Jay introduced me to his wife, Mimi, after church. We had lunch at grandmas with the rest of their family. Then I rode with grandma through town, on a golf cart, to fill jugs of water. Jay and Mimi’s family were so kind and wanted to help me so much, giving foam to sleep on in my tent at Sage Valley and all manor of other things to improve my life out there, including potential work with Jo Fleetwood who was putting together a heating and air conditioning crew. They were super interested in the sustainable community project at Sage Valley. Jay offered the materials of three buildings on their property to help build the community. If we could remove the entirety of all three buildings we could have all the materials, really nice good conditioned lumber for free! I shook out an Indiana persimmon tree and learned how to make Mimi’s Persimmon pudding which I shared with the tribe at the gathering. I wish I could have known them a longer time and that the rest of the tribe would have valued the offer for the buildings, but in the afternoon mists of the gathering, with rain drops on stocking caps and bare wet feet by the ember-glowing, ashy log circles of resilient campfires; while I shared a printed copy of my business model with all the dripping hearts of the Standing Rock pipeline protesting, train strapping, bank digging, dirty punks, who listened attentively to my pitches in the most empowering respect. They deeply believed in my radical role to our collective whole, and in the future that I was expressing creative vision for. All the dirty activist punks were stimulated on my Christion ideal, beneath acoustic guitar music, all of them dropping micro doses of their deepest cares. The acid dropped. The whole world aligned and connected and shook and ran me off.
I couldn’t hold onto Worthington. I was actually terrified to at the time, so in terror of a background experience in the town, with horribly broken heart to know I couldn’t hold onto the love that I found their or so much as clean up the mess of that love, I accepted a passenger side ride, in the last car out of Sage Valley, out of Indiana.
Before all that storm of heartbreak, Moon and her circus troop arrived some week or so before the rest of the tribe. We had meetings about the project, listened in on the live chat of the greater “Conscious Carnivals” movement’s planning talk and decided that the difference in what we wanted from the project was too different, as they wanted to remain a small troop and unofficial in the system and I was trying to create a paradigm shift in society, which if done via the Circus of Purpose wouldn’t be a small unofficial thing. After about a month in Indiana, in the last car to leave Sage Valley, after the gathering; with my new friend Micheal, who I’d just met after everyone else was gone from the gathering and who would prove to be really important over the next year of my life. For some three days after we were the only two people left in the valley, I cooked us meals over the sacred fire, cooked pumpkin seeds in a clay oven that took practically all day to get going as it was simply a pit with one opening in the front and the fire had to get really hot to not go out as it was pushed back: With me singing a new song….
One of these days, this really outa work out.
We will amend from all the people before us.
One of these days, you’ll see the value that I find in you.
One of these days, you’ll value me too.
We gather together to build communities.
We gather together to share our ideas.
We gather together with so much reason to share.
We gather together like it’s just you and me here.
Sawdust is blowing on the breeze over there.
A headlamp lights the fog of breath on the air.
A letter’s extensive to my father’s old friend
In that’s a deeper hope of how we’ll really amend
In fact we’re now planning…
and so on…
The opportunity to see The Garden again; and at The Garden talk further with The People’s Project, who lived out of a homily remodeled traveling school bus, who I’d met at this gathering and been passionately inspired by’s stories of the pipeline protest in Standing Rock and was STOKED to understand more ofs’ mission and plans and the possibility of maybe making it back to Missouri for my court date in November and maybe get to see Asheville, where I’d heard so much about’s local business movement, was enough potential for saving grace, that a wrote a note to Jay and Mimi and tucked it into the crevice of the front door to their home in sad stress of such loves to choose between. To leave such a seemingly strong potential for love, so broken and short lived. To this day my heart aches over leaving the church family I found there, as short a time as it was. And it’s beautiful from here, to recognize the smallness of a Worthington citizens place in the social expanses that I’ve put my hand through, and that I was able to so potentially value that in the moment that I was there. In fact, maybe that’s what I need to go to, today. Sage Valley was emptied. Brandon and Mackenzie’s family had retreated to there house after the big party, Michael and I were left. He more busily attentive to his experience than me, me just cooking pumpkin seeds and flipping song lyrics over about the gathering that had just take place, with my main focus on preparing meals for the two of us, left. The sacred fire was ashen, smoking into the brisk winds. The tall yellow grasses of the upper field, bowings in sway with the wind. Sap was dripping really, unthinkably slow down the bark, out of the blackest maple tree, where the creek comes up near the stage in the heart of the valley. The forest, dirty camp, uphill of the valley was probably dusty, dirty and springing eight varieties of mushrooms. A roadwork crew was laying new asphalt on the road into Worthington at the edge of the land, within earshot of my gathering-song-singing, as I cooked pumkins seeds and our last meals, while Michael took the opportunity of being really the last person in the beautiful old forested and deeply loved valley, with me cooking us meals for those last days. He did something of his own interest and he kept the fire going.
As we packed our belongings into Michaels’ car the wind picked up with strength that took great big limps off the old trees around the valley and we got on the highway in the evening with me sitting cross legged in Micheals’ passengers seat since his car was packed so full like perfectly arranged Tetris blocks and it stormed.