Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
8. A Gathering Place
Our guide tells us that a few groups use some of these shrines to conduct traditional services in the older religions, and that just about everyone will occasionally come to one or another or perhaps to each one, to meditate alone. But the next stop of our tour will be the place where, regardless of religious preference, most of the people will come together to express what spiritual feelings they may hold.
We emerge from the other side of the forest to find the amphitheatre – a natural flat depression with a semicircular hill rising above it. There are some stands for lighting at the top of the hill to illuminate outdoor performances, but otherwise the setting is natural, and people sitting on the grass of the hill look out beyond the place below towards hills and meadows beyond. This is the center of most of the Village spiritual life. During storms or before snows are cleared the theater of the cultural center is used. But people like to gather here as much as possible. Perhaps after taking that prayerful, meditative journey we just took through the history of human spiritual striving. Then to come here, under the clear skies, or the traveling clouds, under the stars or by sun or moonlight, at dawn or sunset, at one with the winds, the grass, the birds, the insects, the patient endurance of the trees, and the everlasting hills.
Once a week, it might be at sunset on Saturday, or Sunday sunrise or afternoon, those who wish to celebrate together come here, some of the Village songs will be sung, and someone, a volunteer, elder or youth, man woman or couple. Might speak from their hearts for a little, words that reach out to bind souls and inspire minds. There is a women’s choir and a men’s choir and a children’s choir that may further move the people, and, we are told, most often a piano and some rhythm instruments are rolled out, the tempos raised, and all may conclude with the spirit moving into everyone for ecstatic and joyful dance.
“Are there any, well, not commandments or dogma exactly, but any spiritual principles everyone agrees to?”
“Not exactly. Not in the form of a creed or a scripture everyone subscribes to – but – yes. I suppose we all are really grateful to be alive, pretty much in awe of the whole of existence, the universe, the earth. I think we all agree that human beings are good and when we do bad things that is not our nature but a result of some hurts we have received. We would probably all agree that love is basic to our nature and is the greatest gift we have, but that curiosity and the ability to learn, playfulness and having fun, and creativity, making things that are beautiful or useful, are also all basic to our nature. These are some of what we like to celebrate together.”
It is a beautiful and hopeful scene that we conjure here in our fantasy, imagining two or three hundred people, including elders, teenagers and toddlers, rocking out across the hill before us, leaping and twirling in wild abandon, drawing from each other and the music the wondrous energies of life, creativity, love and pure joy.