Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rate of Assimilation

We have heard from different sources that we have melded with the community of Arden at a faster than normal rate. Our friends and long-time residents have joked that we know more people in Arden than they do. We feel it, too. It was an immediate sense of belonging here. Not everyone who moves to the Ardens comes by that feeling so quickly. Some never do.
Sculpture by Rick Rothrock

Assimilation has two-tiered meaning. It can mean to take in--as in the community of Arden has taken us in. It can also mean to share similarity--to be congruent. I can't speak for Mark, but this is the first time I have felt this kind of belonging. In college, it took me until my third semester to find my footing. In Reinholds, I never really felt it. I felt like a foreigner in a county where my motherline runs deep. I recently traced my mother's mother's mother's... etc. lineage as far back as I could go. Eleven generations of women who all lived in Lancaster County. One would expect that I would have experienced assimilation in this, the land of my mothers, but I didn't.

I'll give another story to illustrate. Years ago, I was sitting and watching Maren's dance class with other parents. I saw a woman who was sitting off to the side with a pile of books. On top was a We'Moon Desk Calendar with a piece of blank paper, clipped to the front cover.  It was obvious that this was an attempt to obscure the book, so people didn't know what it was. Enough of the cover was still peeking out so that I could recognize it for what it was. For those that aren't familiar with We'Moon, it is (according to its website) "an empowering datebook and multicultural earth spirited calendar, We'Moon features art and writing by and about women: an exploration of women's experience and perspectives, a goddess-inspired creation from the growing edge of global women's culture." I leaned over to Lucinda, who I had met casually before, and said, "Oh, you have a We'Moon calendar."

She looked at me, startled. "You know what this is?"

"Sure," I said.

To which she replied, "Are you from around here?"

And it was true. It seemed that in Lancaster County, I almost had to speak in code to find other like-minded people, if I had the nerve to speak up at all. I had been taking my kids to the same babysitter every workday for six years before we discovered we had the same political leanings. Why? Because as a liberal in Lancaster County, you had to assume you were the odd woman out, politically. It wasn't always safe or easy to speak your truths. In my son's high school, Obama not only lost the mock election in 2012, he came in third to student write-in votes for Ron Paul. 

I am not saying that the whole of Arden is democrat. I will say that Arden has outspoken democrats, and for me, just that notion is very refreshing. Arden also has outspoken feminists. Active Unitarian Universalists. People who are open about the fact that they meditate.  People who are open about the fact that they talk to spirits. Then there are all the artists. Mark, too, has people with whom he can talk about the things most important to him: his projects, IT tech, beer making. He is also very curious about Georgist philosophy. We don't have commonality to everyone in Arden, but most people who live here are open to the things that make each individual unique. You are quirky? Arden embraces the peculiar. I've said it before. We found our tribe. Assimilation may have been quick, but it took us a long time to get here.

Sundials by Rick Rothrock
Yesterday, I got the message from sculptor Rick Rothrock to come over and watch as he calibrated his sundials in his sculpture garden for the spring equinox. I am deeply moved by Rick's work and will someday own one of his pieces. I've talked to Rick at length about his motivations and influences. Spirals. Vesica Pisces. Oculi. The play of changing light on the stone as the sun moves across the sky. I see Rick as a true shaman. He is speaking an ancient language with the medium of light and earth. What could be more ancient than charting the sun's movement across the sky through the day and the seasons? He showed me how each of his sundials marked the passing of time in different ways. Not fast or slow. It wasn't as if one of his sundials was five minutes fast. But they each played with the sun's light in a different way. 

We are coming up on two years that we have been casting our shadow in the Ardens. Were we fast-tracked into this community? I don't know. Time is a funny thing, as is our expression of it. We do what we can with the light we are given. And what is time but our relationship with the sun? 

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