Nomad Together

Ever wonder “why” we travel full time?

Listen in to this interview with NomadTogether and hear our very candid story. We share the in’s and out’s of community life, music, and marriage/family on the road.

*Topic for this podcast interview: Swimming Upstream-Redefining Your Reality 

We live in a culture that is individualistic and prides its self on being independent and self-sustainable. Comfort, independence and, security are at the top of the list for most people. But, what if these norms that our culture values are masking our longing for a deeper sense of community and adventure?

What we have learned thus far…

To clarify, when we talk about swimming upstream we are talking about swimming in the same waters as everyone else, just moving in a different direction. We are not talking about jumping out of the river into a whole other body of water and creating our own stream (flow). That would be too easy. We are not of this world but we are surely in it. And, because we are in it, we seek to understand the flow, the systems in place and the direction whatever society we are in is going.

One of the keys to swimming upstream culturally is to begin to ask questions. especially “why” questions.We asked questions like, Why do we care so much about status and wealth? What role should education, healthcare, and the pursuit of happiness have in our lives? What is freedom? What is interdependence and why is so vital to our existence? Who are we and what are do we do best as a team? 

That doesn’t mean that we have it all figured out, but to ask questions in and of itself is the beginning stroke of swimming upstream. Not in any sort of snarky or “we’re better than you sort of way,” but why as a curiosity, as a way of engaging the culture around us, challenging and probing into the possibilities or ways of defining the reality.

Also, to swim upstream requires an exceptional amount of patience both for ourselves and those around us. It requires that we have compassion for those going the other direction, going with the flow. It means offering a humble example of flowing another way but understanding that not everyone is keen and rejection is inevitable. It means that when we think we have it all figured out that we’ve probably jumped into a pond and are no longer swimming upstream but rather, we have isolated ourselves with only those who are like minded.

Our hope is that those we meet along the way would be encouraged to start asking questions for themselves. Not for the purpose of getting them to a place where they clone our nomadic lifestyle. Rather, to inspire them to start dreaming and move into the mystery of what swimming upstream might look like for them in their context, with their gift set. 

We unpack all of these things in the Podcast Nomad Together. Have a listen.

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Audiofeed Music Festival

Six years ago, the last ever Cornerstone festival took place. This underground faith festival was a big family reunion for many of us wayfaring travelers. A place where we were able to come together, create and commune, even if just for a moment.

In 2012, when it was announced that the 29-year-old festival was going to come to an end, many of us mourned. Some responded with anger, some sadness but there was a remnant of kinfolk who got together, plotted and prayed and the next year gathered together for what has come to be known as Audiofeed Music Festival. Now, this little festival does not claim to have replaced Cornerstone but it does claim to have carried on the communal spirit, with bands and fans all mingling, camping, creating and fellowshipping with one another.

It was raining when we arrived at our first ever Audiofeed in Urbana Illinois, on Thursday evening. Even so, there was excitement in the air as we anticipated seeing so many kinfolk. We had already picked up our friends, Renee and Di, who had flown from Australia into O’hare that day. We knew a handful of members and former alumni from JPUSA were going to be there as well as a contingency of kinfolk from our Louisiana community. Then there were all of the bands we’d played with out on the road. And finally, we were excited to see some of our bus rider alumni, including Chaz, Lindy, and Colleen. We were excited for all of them to join us for our performance slot Sunday morning as our “OnCall Orchestra.” (that’s the name we’ve given to all of our kinfolk around the globe who have played music with us).

We had put the word out that we were going to be hosting morning Chai tea at our bus all weekend long and were delighted to find many friends new and old stop by for tea and conversations.

On Friday afternoon, a handful of us led a time of sacred space, which offered us a much-needed upward soaking after months of hard travel.

We spent quite a bit of time in the complementary kitchen set up and run by the infamous “Mama Linda.” We learned about her history, inviting bands to come to her property for a hearty meal as they toured through her little town in Illinois and how she set up this hospitality space at the festival to continue to offer that blessing to all of us road warriors. It was a comfortable and open space, holding none of the insecure or prideful vibes that are often times found in a “green room” experience. There was a place for folks to unwind and play games and even a little area set up with toys for all of the children.

During a meal, we sat down with one of the core organizer, Jim Eisenmenger and had a conversation about the story of Audiofeed and the place he hopes it holds in the greater story. There was a humility and gentleness when he spoke and let us know a bit of history about this little “all volunteer” run, art and music festival. He made it clear that Audiofeed is not trying to become the next big thing but rather hopes to keep its communal focus offering a safe space for exploration, questioning, doubts, fears, hopes, joys. He expressed that ultimately, “we are people who want to support each other and experience great music and art with others who feel the same way.” And, that is exactly what we sensed as our weekend unfolded.

We spent the rest of Saturday catching up with many dear friends. We especially loved discovering one of Craig’s old Ballydowse band mates, Darren Davick’s band, The October Bird of Death. The band, Comrades, was another fun discovery! Of course, we loved hearing our mates, Nate Allen and Insomniac Folklore, who both came out with new albums. We were blessed to give our friend T and Veronica a big squeeze after their White Collar Sideshow. And besides sitting in with us, Brother ReD Squirrel offered us an opportunity to hear some of our old favorite “Seeds” songs and John Ruben took us back to our Cornerstone days and then launched us forward by sharing how life has unfolded for him over the past five-year through some of his new songs.

 

On Sunday afternoon, on the Arkansas stage, we found our way, with our On-call Orchestra, all nine of them, and played a rollicking thirty minute set of music. It was so special to hear our songs played with such gusto and to hear each member listening and working together best they could to create a unified sound.  It was one of the most refreshing and joyful performances we’ve had in a long time and gave us a thirst for more opportunities to include and join together with large ensembles.

After our afternoon performance we noticed that people were buzzing about and preparing video gamed themed costumes for the evening festivities. Banjo and his crew ended up making a combined costume, each playing a part in the game “Pong.”

That evening we connected with our mate, Tobin and found that his band, Flatfoot 56 held a sort of “cool” fatherly presence at the festival as they brought everyone into the fold during their Sunday night performance. As the crowd gathered in anticipation, classic video game music was playing over the PA. The show started with a fun little Mario skit featuring Tessa and Nate Allen. The crowd began to close in towards the front of the room and when the first guitar chords were strummed the crowd erupted in exuberance movement that continued throughout the night. As the band played, there were dance lines, circle pits, crowd surfing, and stage diving.

Now, I’m more of a granola girl but I married a punk rocker and I’ve always wanted to stage dive. I had been contemplating it all night but felt like I was too old. But, then I saw my friend Tessa do it and I thought, that’s it, I’m doing it! Tobin was singing a punk version of “I’ll Fly Away” and as I approached the edge of the stage, I looked out over the crowd I bowed and offered a sort of prayer sign with my hands begging them to not drop me. Those looking at me, held their arms out strong and wide and yelled JUMP! And, I did! It was so freaking fun! Really it was the highlight of the festival for me; to be in a place of total trust, surrender and to just jump, to be caught and held high, then lowered ever so gently. For me, it was a beautiful picture of community and I will never forget it!

Look, if you ever find yourself longing for a little family reunion, keep Audiofeed on your radar. It is not just a music and arts festival. It’s exactly what Jim said, “it’s community.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Collective Mother Bear

Drawing by Matthew Klaas de Witte

Even as a child, I had a natural bent towards the warrior role of “mother”. I find strength in compassion and I know I’m not the only one. In fact, when I began to dig into the folklore around mother figures, I found some fascinating stories, especially those revolving around the idea of the “Mother Bear”. Archaeological findings dating back to ancient times, suggest that in particular the Lion, the Bear and the Elk tend to be the symbols of “mother”.

Stories of the Great Bear Mother have been traced from the earliest times throughout the colder northern hemisphere, from Finland to Siberia to North America. She even has a constellation in the northern sky called Ursa Major. Moscow’s coat of arms also includes a She bear who carries a double axe. In Britain, based on this early veneration of the Great She Bear, we find the mythic hero-king Arthur, named from the Welsh Arth Vawr – Heavenly Bear. He was believed to be the spouse of the Celtic goddess, Artio – the Great She Bear. The Ainu of Japan, who are descendants of early Siberian migrations, still retain their veneration of the Bear in both legend and ritual. We see her roar fiercely in the ancient writings of Hosea and for Native Americans the Bear is one of the guardians of the Four Directions.

The stories go on and on as she continues to make her appearance with different names throughout history. The ultimate theme in all of these stories is that the Great She Bear, advocate and protector, whose animal fur, skins and body gave warmth and food was revered as an awesome Ancestor Mother of human beings.

Everyone has a mother, love them or hate them. Some have been abandoned by their mothers and some scorned. For those downtrodden baby bears, the Great She Bear roars. You know her, she’s the neighbor, the teacher, the grandmother, aunt, coach or older sister that stands in the gap, raising the standard and setting the example. It’s a beautiful gift. For many of us this instinctual compassion is a tender response to a broken world.

However, there is a very real temptation for all of us who feel this natural tendency towards Mother Bear, to take this very precious gift and distort it into something wholly unnatural and damaging. Where instead of understanding this role as a ‘collective’ we decide that our will is more important than that of any other Mother Bear. Believing that we are “THEE” Mother Bear, we manipulate and interject our will upon a baby bear irregardless of whether that child already has nurturing from their own mother.

In Twisted Thinking Transformed, Author Jerry Price, calls this an ownership attitude; where one person believes they have the right to take ownership of another person, place or thing that does not belong to them because they believe they deserve it. This sort of thinking creates endless examples of double standards and confusion. It’s the same attitude seen in the Hebrew story in which King Solomon of Israel ruled between two women both claiming to be the mother of a particular child.

The story recounts that the two mothers were living in the same house, each the mother of an infant son. One of the babies died. Each adamantly claimed the remaining boy as her own. In order to settle the dispute they went before the King. The King called for a sword and declared his judgment: the baby would be cut in two, each woman to receive half. One mother thought the ruling fair, but the other begged Solomon, “Give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!” The king declared the second woman the true mother, as the true mother would surely give up her baby if that was necessary to save its life.

We don’t know all of the back story as the scene really focuses in on the Kings ruling. However, we do see that these two women lived with each other, so they were in some sort of relationship, maybe even friends or relatives. The woman who had an ownership attitude was so distorted in her thirst to be “THEE” Mother Bear that she was even willing to sacrifice the child so that the other woman could not take her rightful place.

How many times have we seen this story replayed, where a mother bear who is actively trying to nurture her baby bear encounters another mother bear and finds out that the person she deemed an ally, someone who could support and uplift, was betraying that trust, maybe even with good intentions.

It is so important for each of us to honestly recognize the temptation to tether with another’s baby bear and God help us if we ever overstep our position in another child’s life and thus cast a shadow on that mother/child relationship! It’s true, many of us have been the victim of this sort of betrayal but it also true that many of us have been the betrayer. It is crucial to the collective whole that we all be bona-fide about our own missteps and seek a better way. It will take humility, a healthy active ability to really listen to one another and a promise to be for one another.

And so, from one Mama Bear to another, I propose a treaty.

This is a promise to all the She Bears out their nurturing their baby bears. It is written in first person perspective in hopes that you, as a reader, will identify yourself as the Mother Bear and make the pledge also. If you agree with this treaty, please sign in the comments. If you find that there is a heart-felt promise that you’d like to add to the treaty please feel free to add it in the comments.

Artio, Celtic Goddess of Wild Life, Transformation and Abundance by Judith Shaw

THE MOTHER BEAR TREATY

To all fellow Mother Bears, from every tongue, tribe and nation. I promise that I will be for you and not against you.

I promise that if I encounter opportunities to come alongside your baby bear that I will understand that position as supplemental, not primary.

I promise that, as a fellow mother bear, I will work to engage with you without judgement and will look for ways to encourage you in your primary role.

If I have no baby bear of my own, but resonate with the collective Mother Bear, I promise that any encounters I might have to come alongside your baby bear will be seen as supplemental, not primary.

Whether I agree with your parenting style or not I promise that I will not manipulate your baby bear with jabs that threaten the foundation of your relationship. Rather, I will try to find ways to build your relationship up.

If your baby bear comes to me with a complaint that involves you, I promise that I will listen without bias and will encourage your baby bear to make every effort to reconcile with you.

I promise that if my good intentions towards your baby bear falls short and you take offense, that I will be open to hearing your heart and to owning the pain I may have caused, making every effort to reconcile with you.

Likewise, if you, with good intentions towards my baby bear, fall short, I promise to communicate the impact of that pain openly and allow room for you to make amends. If you make amends, I promise to not harbor any bitterness.

If my baby bear hurts your baby bear I promise that I will hold my baby bear accountable and do everything within my power to bring my baby bear to a place of remorse and guide him/her towards reconciliation with your baby bear.

If your baby bear hurts my baby bear, I promise that I will hold your baby bear accountable and will make every effort to communicate the damage to you. If your baby bear approaches with humility to apologize, I promise I will also listen with an open mind and move our babies towards forgiveness.

It may be that we or our baby bears are just not going to get along, in that case, we will walk away graciously and hold no grudge.

I promise that I will not use my words to condemn or shame you. I promise that I will not speak about you to other Mother Bears with any sort of mallace or ill intent.

In conclusion,

I promise to uphold this treaty, to protect the sanctity of the collective Mother Bear, and once again, to be for you, not against you.

Signatures:

Jana Holland, just one Mama Bear in the collective whole.

The Dusty Feet Mob

You know how it goes for us nomads, we meet kinfolk who find out were heading towards their friends. Then we meet those people who find out our next stop is in the same town as their friends and on and on. And so it was, that we made our way from Melbourne, to Adelaide to the Dusty Feet Mob in Port Augusta.

We were in Melbourne, VIC, Australia with our friends Nick and Anita Wight. We met Nick and Anita in March of 2014 at Surrender Conference, a gathering of all sorts of kinfolk doing amazing things around the globe in their communities, from offering hospitality to refugees, to creating sustainable/recycled goods, advocating for those who are oppressed to living side by side with folks in some of the poorest parts of the world. We were excited to hear about these like-minded kinfolk and wrote Anita (who was one of the directors at the time) and asked if we could share our music or help in any other way and she said yes! And, that was that, we became fast friends and continued to stay in touch, stopping in to see the Wight family at their Footscray home on our way from here to there.

It’s an encouragement to find friends like the Wights because their friendship not only allowing us to anchor when we need a rest or re-supply but their friendship fuels our hearts with love.

img_2531One night we were sharing a meal and talking about our upcoming trek across South Australia and up to Alice Springs, when their friend Ian Dempster called. Ian was from Adelaide and happened to in Melbourne, driving by their home on his way to a meeting. He didn’t have time to stop over but thought of them as he passed and decided to give them a quick call for a chat. While on the phone the Wights told Ian about us and our desire to come alongside and encourage others and he said, “send them my way.”

We were blessed to meet up with Ian at the Central Market for a coffee and hear about his work with the UAICC (Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress). He shared about his passion to collaborate with and encourage his Aboriginal counterparts. Although our time with Ian was brief we shared our desire to meet and hear more of the Aboriginal story as we made our way north and he connected us with his dear friends 3 1/2 hours north in Port Augusta.

img_2596As we neared into the industrial town of  Port Augusta we experienced the vast rose-colored salt lakes, broken mesas and massive rock formations that lifted out of the ground commanding our attention and we were reminded of one of our favorite states in the US, New Mexico. Our hosts, The Wallace family, lived on a pink salt lake around the corner from the railroad and welcomed us to their Port Augusta home. They invited us to settle in, share a meal and do a load of laundry. We found them easy to connect with, specially after they whipped out the Settlers of Catan board. Then it was game on. As a bonus, Anna shared her gift of sewing with us and mended up some of our broken backpacks.

The next day, we joined the Congress Port Augusta – Uniting Church, where we met Jesse Size, Auntie* Maria and the rest of the mob*. The service was informal yet reverent. We all sat in the round, taught each other songs of praise and shared in story. They asked us questions about our travels and we shared the practical stories of how Abba cares for us along the way, making sure our needs are met, just as he cares for the birds of the air. A question was asked about how we deal with conflict and betrayal, an issue close to the Aboriginal heart. We shared the story of the betrayal and reconciliation in our own marriage.  As a legitimate victim, I shared how difficult it was to wait without bitterness or blemish, in faith, for my husband to “own his stuff” and finally how Abba liberated him from his twisted thinking; thinking that kept him bound to a false sense of justice.  As we laid down our pride and trusted, Abba did it all. Faithfully the Great Physician put our marriage back together again. We shared another song or two and said a prayer of blessing over them. It was an honor to be with these saints, to tell our hard story and the story of God’s trustworthy-ness.

Afterwards, there was a lightness in the room as folks were getting ready to move to the next part of the day, a Sunday afternoon picnic. Auntie Maria invited us to join in and explained that it was a picnic for the Dusty Feet Mob, a dance troop that her daughter, Wanita choreographed. She was excited to have us join them and for us to see the children dance.

When we arrived, Maria shared the story of the Dusty Feet Mob and explained that Port Augusta is made up of 36 different Aboriginal groups and the Dusty Feet Mob is inclusive towards them all. She stated their dance troop was created in 2014 to provide a medium for elders to pass on their knowledge to younger generations and as a way to communicate about Aboriginal issues, specifically regarding reconciliation.  The group’s debut performance was at the Peterborough Art Cultural Festival in Port Pirie and since then they have been invited to perform at the NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week and many other state and national events. One of their most riveting performances was alongside famed Aboriginal folk singer, Archie Roach, at the Reconciliation South Australia Event in February 2016

Film Maker Dave Laslett. 

img_2628-1What we learned, and what we shared in Port Augusta was life-giving and inspiring. And, even more was the quiet evening that we spent in Jesse and Chelsea Size’s home, sharing a traditional Aboriginal meal of Kangaroo Tails that Auntie Maria made for us. It was during this meal, as the sun setting in the sky and heat lighting was bolting here and there that Auntie Maria shared her personal story. A story of resilience, perseverance, and faith.

Auntie Maria must have been about my age, maybe a bit older, (meaning she was probably in her early 50’s). So she would have been born during a difficult time in Australian/Aboriginal history. Her people were originally from Maralinga but had to flee thousands of Kilometer into Oak Valley, Cundalee Mission in 1955 after the British Government, along with the Australian Government, dropped an Nuclear bomb on their lands. Some went north, east and west after the bomb to find comfort. Unfortunately, some never recovered and many who have lived through the travesty still feel the effects today with sore eyes or blindness.

Many of Maria’s family were taken to Mt Margaret Mission, Kurrawang Mission or Norseman Mission and placed there under the guardianship board when they were taken from their families. This is now known as the stolen generation. Maria’s mum fled all the way to Perth where she had Maria. However, from what Maria was told her mother died when she was 3 months old. A native welfare worker contacted Maria’s extended family and her oldest sister took her under her wing with other family supporting. Maria was born a half-caste and expressed her deep desire to know her connection to country, to family especially around native titles, etc. Unfortunately, for Maria there is not a lot written about her mum so all she has to go on is what family tells her about who is family and where she fit in.

She spoke fondly of her childhood, growing up in and around Laverton, Mt Margaret and Leonora. She said she was a bit of a cheeky child, later returning to her hometown to see her name still etched into sidewalks and buildings. She said she respects and values her culture and has a deep longing to connect with country but explained that her Brother-in-law, who raised her like his own, had a strong Christian faith and for that she was thankful, for no matter what may come her way, she knows that Jesus is her rock. When all else fails, and she’s seen her share of failings, she falls back on her faith as her firm foundation. Auntie Maria’s story was so inspiring and it was an honor to even have heard a small portion of it.

*Mob is a word used to describe a tribe or family group of Aboriginal people. *Auntie or Uncle are the respectful terms to address an elder woman or man

Home Sweet Home

The Hollands! BusFor many the nomadic lifestyle is a romantic notion but when push comes to shove most wouldn’t uproot for fear of being out there in the wide world all alone with no anchor. That’s OK, nomadic life isn’t for everyone. We were the same. We lived ten years of our married life in one geographical area and although we would dream of adventure, we had no idea how to deconstruct our current situation to make room for the new lifestyle. However, when we felt the call to up root, give everything away and hit the road, we decided to move into the mystery of that calling regardless of our lack of knowledge, fears or the fears of those around us and take the leap of faith. 

Here we are five years on and many have been inspired by our faith story, however there are still some who just can’t wrap their minds around not having a “home.” We are often asked by these friends, “how long do we plan on being on the road?” And, “if, as we travel, if we were looking for a new place to call home?” We can confidently say that nomadic life is our home. “Home is where you park it” is a popular hashtag/slogan in our nomadic world and we have found many like-minded kinfolk along the way, all trading in the bricks and mortar for the wide open spaces.

img_8392Fifteen months ago, we traded in our bus for backpacks and began an epic trek around Australia and South East Asia. In Australia we bought a used minivan and used that as our main form of transpiration and storage. We reached out to kinfolk and found an abundance of hospitality and although we had access to tents, in the eleven months we were in Australia we only had to sleep in them twice. We were humbled by the generous and kind welcome by our Aussie hosts and cherish the opportunities we had to share in story and friendship.  

As we made our way around Australia, many asked the age-old questions, “what our favorite place had been so far or if there was a place that felt more like home and ultimately, if there’s one place that we’d feel like settling back down in?” We answered them all the same, stating every place had it’s pull, it’s charm, and most of our feelings of affection came from the people in each of the places more than the places themselves. And finally, we’d answer, that so far there hadn’t been one place that we could have just stopped and stayed and stayed. That is until, Sydney.

In August, we were invited to house sit for our dear friends, the Perini’s. We met the Perini’s in 2000 at St. Hillary’s Anglican in Kew (Melbourne). I remember that first Sunday, Michelle came right up to me, introduced herself and got my phone number. Over the next year, she would pick me up regularly for playgroups, coffee dates, lunch and to just get out of the house. We became fast friends, and she became a dear mentor to me. The fella’s connected too and even though we moved back to the states after only a year, we stayed in touch and visited every time we went back. Eventually they moved to Sydney and we were excited to see them once again. However, this time around, they would be going out of the country to Italy for six weeks and they asked us to stay in their Glebe home and mind it for them while they were gone. The timing couldn’t have been better. We had done a pretty bouncy two month stint in the Byron Shire, all with amazing host families, but our backs were tired from the unloading and loading and from adjusting to so many different beds, so the thought of being in one place for six weeks was exhilarating. 

img_6452We arrived at the Terrace house, which sat nestled in a row of terrace homes a few blocks down from all the shops and restaurants on Glebe Point Road. The Perini’s invited us in for a cuppa (that’s a hot drink in Australian slang), and they explained the nuances of their sweet home. It was a warm space filled with all of their treasures, books, loads of books and antiques. Michelle’s signature color of cherry red made the space pop with joy. 

img_0867They next day they flew out and we settled in. The space immediately felt like home with plenty of room to spread out but just small enough to feel close to one another. The kitchen was my favorite place to be. Oh! to have access to a full kitchen unhindered, what a delight! We enjoyed the back patio and reading their many books. We also took advantage of the close proximity to all of the shops, specially Banjo who would walk up the street on a whim to get a kombucha from the local IGA. And, at sunset we would go for a family walk down to the river front board walk, loop around and walk back up through the main road. The neighborhood was active and alive and over the weeks we found familiar faces greeting us and for the first time ever in our travels, we all stated with confidence that this was a place that we could just stay, and stay for a long, long time.  

To top it all off, we had already established relationships in the neighborhood with the “Gleebox” girls, as well as, some friends we knew through the Perini’s and new friends we had met through our kinfolk network.

Plus, we had a number of guest stay with us, including our nephew, who flew up for a weekend from Melbourne. Our friend Cass from Singapore came for a whirlwind evening where we shared dinner and story. Our friend Daryl from the US, came for a two-week stay and we hiked, went to the beach, enjoyed the local sights and sounds, food and markets.  Our friend Neelke, from the Netherlands, came for a few nights and we jam-packed as much as we could into her visit. We also caught up with our friend Andrew, who we met in Cambodia. It was awesome having so many kinfolk that we had met from all over the world come to our door front!

We enjoyed playing host, having the world come to us! We loved using our space to bring community together hosting dinner parties, afternoon teas, sharing sacred space, and providing a safe place to share story. We even hosted a house concert, where we cleared the room, made a bunch of yummy treats, set the stage and a whole slew of kinfolk that we had met through out the previous weeks came and enjoyed an evening of music. Our muso friends, Naomi Nash, Cameron James Henderson and Graciana Holland performed a songwriter in the round concert. It was intimate and spectacular and truly the highlight of our stay.  

The six weeks flew by and everyday was filled with the richness of life, community and the beauty of a city wrapped in the natural surroundings of water. If we could encapsulate one memory from our travels that we would want to keep forever, this would be the stop.

So now, when people ask us if we have a favorite place or a place we would want to settle down in, we can answer, yes, Sydney, Australia, specifically in a little terrace home just off Glebe Point Road, where we could meld into the local atmosphere, sharing life and using our space to create community, where instead of us going to the world, the world comes to us, then yes, that’s the place we would love to be. It’s a dream we know, but for now we can savor the little taste we were given and know that if we were ever to shift from nomadic life to bricks and mortar, it would have to live up to this new-found expectation. Until then, we keep rolling, taking each stop just as it is, pliable and available to be woven together with those we meet along the way, bringing with us love and light. Until then, #homeiswhereyouparkit.

Fox In The Chicken Coop

The hour was nigh, the full moon smack dab in the middle of the sky and the air was thick with the smell of spring blossoms. Amongst the rolling hills sat a little community farm, with a sweet little farm-house, chickens, and sheep. All was quiet, that is until the break of dawn; that’s when the shrill of screams woke the farmer’s wife.

“There is a fox in the chicken coop!” she yelled.

The farmer jumped out of the bed, rushed to the door, threw on his gum-boots, grabbed his gun and ran wildly out the door. He crossed the paddock, eyes darting left and right, finally reaching the chickens, but he arrived to late. The fox had been in and out, taking with him one poor chicken. The evidence of the crime laid all over the dirt floor. Feathers, blood and the rest of the chickens squawking up a storm. The farmer tried to calm them down, but they seemed inconsolable. He threw them an early breakfast and figured eventually they would find their way back to the calm. Defeated, he took one more look around and he went back to the house to get ready for the day.

That wicked, wily fox! What the farmer didn’t realize is that this fox was very different from other foxes. Sure, he had a bushy tail and those keen greenish-yellow eyes, but this fox was nefarious and had a super power. This fox could shape himself into the likeness of his prey and was actually still in that coop. What the farmer didn’t realize is that the fox had other plans. He planned to nestle himself in amongst those chickens, enjoying the warmth of the coop and the assurance of a constant food source.

The chickens were even fooled by the foxes cunning abilities to fit in. He ate the seed and feed that the farmer fed them, he roamed around the grassy hills but never wondered to far off. He could bawk like them and he could cluck like them. He even went the extra mile to make the chickens feel like they were really special, speaking sugar sweet words of affirmation.

Life seemed pretty great for the fox. He had even gone as far as to win over the affections of the rooster.

Once a chicken came to the rooster and said, “Rooster, that chicken over there, pecked me the other day, she sat right next to me while we were laying eggs and when I asked her why she didn’t have any eggs herself, she leaned over and pecked me. It hurt so bad.”

The rooster was angry but he really liked the fox chicken as they were good friends, so he was conflicted as to what to do. He vowed to kept his eye on the fox chicken but he never confronted his friend.

One day the farmer brought a new chicken into the coop. This chicken was different from the rest. She was beautiful and very talented. This chicken was red and could lay more eggs than the rest. The rooster knew that the farmer had high hopes for the red chicken and it was his job to watch over that new girl. Likewise, the fox saw that the red chicken was high value. The other chickens meant nothing to him, they were just easy feed, and if he was honest with himself, they were bland and a bit dry. But this red chicken, well she just might be the real door prize. And so, the fox decided he would convince her that he was her best friend and most of all, he would seduce her into giving herself to him without a fight. She would be the best dinner yet, for surely she would more juicy and have more flavor than the rest.

The little red chicken was new and although she was different, all of the other hens welcomed her with open arms, inviting her into the fold. They all became fast friends, sharing meals and roaming the hill-side together. The rooster, likewise, offered up his loyal services and even took a little liking to the red hen. Life was good and everyone seemed to be getting along.

Then, one day, she noticed the fox chicken sitting in the corner and curiously thought, “hmm, she seems nice too,” so she went over and introduced herself.

She said, “Hello, my name is Venus.”

The fox chicken responded in as high a voice as he could muster as to not give away his true identity, “Hi, my name is Foxy.”

Venus was immediately stirred by Foxy’s smooth talking. He looked like all the rest but there was something different and maybe a little dangerous about Foxy and that actually made her excited. She noticed that Foxy had the most unusual greenish-yellow eyes. She’s never seen a chicken with eyes so intoxicating. A sense of peril flooded her mind but she quickly abandoned the thought as he continued to speak his hypnotic words, telling her all about his great adventures and how much they had in common being the “different ones.” He told her secrets and told her not to tell the others, she promised with her life that she wouldn’t tell them. Then one day when they were all roaming the hills, Foxy lead her away from the rest of the hens. At first, Venus felt special and relished in the attention Foxy gave her. However, when the thrill was over, she realized that she was not being wise, as foxes roamed these hills too and it is never safe for chickens to wonder to far off.

And so, Venus, confessed to the Rooster. The Rooster was grateful for the confession and went to Foxy, warning her to stay close and to not lead Venus astray. Foxy was compliant but very angry at Venus and ignored her for days. Venus grew more and more depressed and thought that maybe she was wrong for telling and went to Foxy to say sorry. Eventually, things seemed to smooth out and Foxy and Venus resumed their friendship. Foxy played with Venus like a child plays with a rag doll and Venus loved the attention. In fact, the whole coop noticed how much attention Foxy gave Venus and they all thought it was wonderful, for who doesn’t want a best friend.

Life in the barn yard seemed to be harmonious but the fox was growing more and more hungry and his patients was wearing thin. And so, one night, when everyone had gone to bed, he convinced Venus to come with him on an adventure. She was hesitant but excited by the invitation and decided to go along. They stayed out all night, roaming the hills and pushing past the boundaries of the farm. Venus was scared but in awe of Foxy’s confidence and fantastic navigation skills. She followed him here and there, eventually following him down into his den.

They entered slowly, Foxy lit a candle and eyes wide open, Venus started to realize that she was in a foxes den.

She exclaimed, “Foxy, we have to get out of here, it’s not safe here, what if the fox comes home!”

Foxy slyly answered, “Foxes hunt at night, so never to worry my little friend.”

They explored the den, sat on the sofa, and shared a cup of tea. It was late and despite trying to resist, Venus’ heavy eyes fell asleep. Foxy, warmed up next to her, taking a long whiff of her rousing aroma. He couldn’t wait to eat her. He began to move in for the kill but Venus came to and with a look of panic rushed out of the den, over the hills and snuck back into the coop.

The next day, Venus felt horrible and concerned about the bazaar ways that Foxy had nestled next to her. She knew something wasn’t right but was ashamed, so she tried to keep it a secret.

Some of the chickens questioned her, saying, “Venus, where were you last night?”

She was exhausted physically and mentally as she tied to explain away the late night. Eventually, the truth came out and the chickens were shocked by what they heard. They told the rooster and the rooster was shocked by what he heard. He went to Foxy and had a heart to heart, but in the end, Foxy was able to smooth it all out, using his crafty speech and slick charm.

The rooster also scolded Venus and Venus vowed to stay away from Foxy but it was short-lived. For chickens stick together and everywhere Venus went, Foxy was sure to be there. She couldn’t seem to find any space where Foxy wasn’t. It seemed impossible to stay away except by isolating herself from the whole group. She really tried, but she was so lonely, and she missed the adventures and the exhilarating feelings she had when she was with Foxy.

Later, that same day, the farmer came into the coop and noticed that there was one more chicken than normal, he noticed Foxy and picked him up. He looked him square in the eyes and saw that he was different.

Wondering out load he said, “Well, who are you little green-eyed hen? And, how did you get in here?”

He put Foxy outside of the coop for the time being and went back to the farm-house to consult his wife about the strange little hen.  The fox knew his time was short and by now he was famished. So, that night, when all were asleep, he pecked on the window of the coop and bid Venus to come out and join him. Venus was reluctant but eventually gave into the temptation and snuck outside, careful not to wake anyone. Foxy then gave a provocative speech, holding Venus in his arms, letting Venus know that she was his best friend, and that he needed her, that he loved her. Venus was so touched by Foxy’s doublespeak that she didn’t hear his mention of wanting to eat her. She hugged him tightly and before she knew it he morphed into himself, the fox, and devoured her without a peep.

The next day, the farmer came down to the coop, still unsure of where the strange little green-eyed hen had come from. There Foxy was, laying in the dirt just outside the window, pretending to be asleep. The farmer looked down and thought, “how strange but she must be ours?” And so, he opened up the coop, put out the chicken feed, shrugged his shoulders and made his way down to the sheep pen. All the chickens, except one, came wondering out for a feed and a day of roaming the hills. The little fox chicken opened his eyes and mischievously smiled of the corners of his mouth.

He whispered to himself, “yep, that was the most delicious, and juiciest chicken I’ve ever had.  Now, I think I’ll go have sheep for supper.”

And so, the fox wandered over to the sheep pen morphing into a sheep along the way. The farmer was fooled by the foxes disguise but the foxes victory was short-lived as the farmer wanted a sheep for his supper. And so, the farmer took his knife and killed the fox.

Moral of the story for the fox: What comes around goes around. Evil thoughts have evil ends. 

Moral of the story for the little red hen: Lust is the soul's demand to shortcut a longing fulfilled, this impatience leads to a life unfulfilled. 

The moral of the story for the rest of the cast: Appearances are deceptive,The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

The fox represents the enemy, whether within or a demonic presence, which tethers with our ego, dancing in unison to the beat of “Another One Bites The Dust.” The enemy knows that the way to destroy us is by causing us to drift very slowly. How the enemy must laugh in diabolical glee to see us chasing the “lions” away, all the while, the little foxes, unobserved and almost unhindered, wreak havoc on the farm. It’s the little things, the things overlooked, that often spoil things of value.

The Farmer, his wife, the rooster, Venus and all the other hens represent all the different way we try to manage the depravity of our own hearts, whether through willful nativity, ignorance, turning a blind eye, cheering it on, or a warped understanding of our identity as god within.

So, consider this. You know well the times you are living in. It is time for you to wake up and see what is right before your eyes: for salvation stands at the door and knocks.  The darkness of night is dissolving as dawn’s light draws near, so walk out on your old dark life and put on the armor of light. May we all reflect Christ, living today the same way as we will in the day of His coming. Do not fall into darkness: wild partying, drunkenness, sexual depravity, decadent gratification, quarreling, and jealousy. Instead, wrap yourselves in Yeshua, God’s Anointed, and do not fuel your sinful imagination by indulging your self-seeking desire for the pleasures of the flesh. But rather, put on Beauty, Goodness and Truth. (Romans 13:8-14)

Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the distorted desires of the ego. Yield to the Holy Spirit, trust Him and rely upon Him to give you the victory. Then there will appear in your life an abundance of fruit –- ““the fruit of the Spirit”;” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:25)

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to James Dean

James,

My grandfather, Donald Price, was a bootlegger, gun-runner and a thief. He was the guy they called in when they needed someone skilled at picking locks. He was a “bad boy” to be sure. My grandfathers life story inspired my father, Jerry Price, to study psychology, specifically regarding the twistedness of our minds. I grew up sitting around the table with these men, gleaning wisdom and understanding the nuances regarding the depravity of the human condition. I set out to try their words and became quite good at conning others but in the end I found out what my grandfather and father already knew; that every con thinks they are unique and that belief sustains their duplicity. What I didn’t understand but do now is that the ultimate con is to con ones own self. My grandfather used to say, “you can’t con a con.”  Meaning, “I’ve been there, done that” and quiet frankly I can see right through you James. 

Even so, what you need to understand is that if you plan to continue to insert yourself into our daughters life that you are also inserting yourself into our lives. You can’t have one but not the other. So all these games you’ve been playing, deceiving one another, as well as, the community around you, needs to stop. It’s short sighted. 

During my pregnancy with my daughter, I glimpsed for the first time in my life, the future. Now mind you, she was conceived during a time in my life that was utterly dark. I was in the thick of my twistedness and like you James, I was short-sighted. I didn’t have a dream for my future, nor could I see past the immediate sense of pleasure and thirst for power that held me captive. None the less, God could see and knew that my daughter would be a life force of love and light and her birth would be my birth out of duplicity and into wholeness. Her birth was divine and from the moment she was conceived God placed his seal on her life for His glory.  

So, James, what you really need to understand is that when you initiate or for that matter, respond to my daughter’s initiation, that you are not just messing around with her, you are not just messing around with us as her family, but you are messing around with God’s plan for her life. And, my hunch is for your life too. The ancient text says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Prov. 1:7). My hope is that you are not a fool but one who is moldable, pliable and becoming all that you were created to be. So, live in the light but know that as long as I keep seeing you pop up in my daughter’s life that this mama is going to keep popping up in your life.

Sincerely,

Mama Holland