Welcome to our solstice day blog: While gearing up for our retreat in 3 weeks, I’ve been writing a description of what we offer: “…our retreat is for people who really want ‘personal’ community, a family of choice, a tribe with whom to face into the future. It’s not co-housing or living together. Rather everyone has their own place to live and is bonded like family. It sounds easy, it’s not!”
Writing this triggered two hot related issues for me: connection and liminal space. Last weekend my old friend Jack Travis, the doctor who launched the “Wellness” movement back in the 70s, visiting us and shared his life devotion to natural birthing and well loved babies. “It’s all about connection” he kept saying.
Jack told stories of anthropologists who visited Africa decades ago to study child rearing by uncolonized indigenous peoples. They noted that babies were carried skin to skin for 6 months, were rarely put down until they could walk and around age three were able to distinguish which mother was the biological one. Try to imagine the “gift” of such bonded pre-verbal nurturing. These are humans who know they are loved and belong.
The stunning awareness for me was realizing once again how I was born. I was separated immediately, barely breast fed and put on a ridged feeding schedule even while screaming for hours. I know my own pain from years of anguished inner work and that the “broken mother bond” is epidemic in our generation.
Modern western men and women suffer this “disconnect” without even knowing it, because it seems so normal. The work Zoe and I do with close bonded community acts as a powerful healing force. To get started people must be willing to face into the fear to make the human connection they log for.
Liminal Space: Of all the forms of psycho/spiritual healing for our disconnection the gentle magic of liminal space is our favorite. As social animals we humans need each other (hey, great book title) and to get really close we need to feel safe. What we have come to call liminal space happens when there is enough safety, trust and usually touch that a “field” opens up around the group that we might call “oneness.“
When we first started to focus on building authentic community in 2006 I remember one of my target goals for community: “I want to feel liminal space every week when my community gathers.” I knew the feeling well because in the ManKind Project work we set a “container” or safe place for men to open their hearts. This “space” we set and held is so safe that nearly every time men are able to go so deep and trust each other so much that “transformation” becomes possible. For 25 years we have called the Sunday of the men’s weekend “Joy day.” This is liminal space.
So, because I knew that feeling, amongst men I guessed that it was possible with a mixed gender group. Indeed, due to little details like 5000 year of oppression of women by the patriarchy, it has been challenging. But our commitment has been deep and persevered.
It is my joy to report that about a year and a half ago, Zoe and I looked at each other one day and said, “ You know, we have been hitting liminal space 9 out of the last 10 gatherings.” It sort of snuck up on us. We have gatherings at least weekly and were intuitively doing what felt right to bring a group together and connect them in a safe simple ritual way. So, we had been swimming with these happy fish, enjoying it so much we had not, until that moment noticed the delicious liminal water we were all swimming in.
Fortunately as students of our own experimental process we can track how we were able to catalyze this modern miracle and allow the safe, deep “connection” of people. This is some of what we will be teaching in our retreat in 3 weeks and you will see it here in this blog. Look for the next installment called “Beyond pot luck.”
Warm communal blessings,
Bill & Zoe
PS. If you feel really called to do this Retreat, we do have a few spaces left.