Granted, we were the only Christians. The only in-tact family present. In fact, the only married couple. I was by far the oldest woman there. It didn't surprise us that we were soon dubbed "Mother and Father."
Who was at the gathering? Young people in their late teens and twenties mostly. Some of the men are older. They are mostly from the Balkans but some from around the world. A 19 year old who has been living on the streets in Israel. A young woman from an Australian finishing school on her way to a Canadian University. Young Serbians who can’t find jobs but refuse to give up so they move into the countryside and start growing their own food... and magic mushrooms. Some people just looking in. Many, many young people from around the world who live without houses and work as street musicians or doing odd jobs or dumpster diving in order to eat.
We arrived ten days before the gathering to 'set-up' with a small team. This included erecting a welcome centre, kitchen, chai tent, healing tent, meditation centre, main fire, bread oven, fire bath and water access points from the wells.
We were constantly being asked about our lifestyle, spiritual disciplines, family, travel. We were continually sought after for spiritual and relational advice as well as what role drugs have played in our lives. [none, actually]. Many times I would feel the hearts of the mothers of the young people hoping and praying for them.
The day of the full moon celebration we baked 300 bread rolls in the bread oven that Nigel made. I started the night before teaching several women to bake bread for the first time. I don’t use a recipe. I bake by instinct and am teaching this to the young women. More woman gather around. As we are mixing more flour in I start to mention an examination of the conscience. I learned this from the Jesuit bread-baking book I keep in the truck. We clear our workspace and our hearts. We know that our love goes into the bread with every motion of our hands.
All day long we are making unique batches of dough with seeds and herbs and whatever else attracts them. We take the dough up to the bread oven. Nigel is surrounded by men from all over the world. The oven is almost up to temperature. “Have you ever done LSD? I'm thinking about doing it so I can start thinking again.” They are shocked to find out that neither of us do recreational drugs to encourage spiritual enlightenment. [Nigel: "Call us old-fashioned"]. We tell stories and talk about freedom. We talked of of other ways to attain spiritual enlightenment. This conversation, is repeated over and over with other groups of young people.
Our girls make many new friends. People comment on how mature they are. There is a different set of morals than we hold and we have many conversations with the girls about this. In this context it's not good enough to simply tell our girls what is right or wrong. We need to journey with them to the truth. Talking about good and bad of different choices. People are asking them questions as well. They make lasting impressions on many.
One Israeli man says it is like Plato’s cave. We come into the cave to the people who only see shadows and tell them about the real world outside the cave. He says we are the ones coming into the cave to say what real life is. He says we are ‘revered’ here.
We left the gathering in convoy with another van. We have one last food circle in the village before we drive off. We are still 18 in our truck. By the next day our numbers are down to eight.
Our plans are to go to make our way back north by the beginning of July. Over the summer we will go to three festivals. Please keep us in prayer as we visit these festivals where we will speak about new ways of doing church and spiritual communities, the radical Jesus life, and parenting the Jesus way.