Why "Soulwork Adventures?"

EarthLife is amazing and if you aren't paying attention, it just may be passing you by. Slow down! Observe what is around you. Plant a garden. Make Your Own Food. Create Beauty. Meet People. Create.
Welcome to our blog. We love discovering what Earth has to teach anyone willing to be on the Growing Edge of life.

--Loretta McCarthy, Soulwork Adventures

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Whole Trip


The one word that best describes Loretta's and my journey across the USA to visit earth spirituality centers in tribute to her brother John.

I left California fancying myself a marginal farmer and came back realizing that what I have initiated at Dancing TreePeople farm has been amazing.  Now, my energies are drawing me to something new and yet unformed.

I am clear that I will not know what is next until I let go of what has been.

We need to put DancingTreePeople farm on the market and set an intention that someone will purchase it who can continue the transformation that was started here.  This decision has triggered the next whirlwind. In the weeks to come so much will happen.  Yet, I am at peace in the midst of it.

Dancing TreePeople Farm is a special place.  It has taught me to take things one step at a time, to be persistent and observant.  It has taught me that the universe is on my side, even though my vision might not be how things actually unfold.
It has taught me that each new cycle, each season is an opportunity for abundance and a change to try something new.  it has taught me to appreciate and value community and connection.

It has taught me that nature is powerful and fecund.

There will be a great deal of grief in letting go... for so much has taken place here and so much of my life's blood, my time, resources, hopes and dreams have been poured into this farm.   This place is special.  It is beautiful and alive.  It is rich beyond measure.

In the weeks ahead, it is my intention to share the wisdom of Dancing TreePeople Farm and the insights that I will take forward into what is to come.

Your Permaculture Soul,


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Home Sweet Home

As we drove into the driveway at 1445 Pitney Lane, we were greeted by three barking, exuberant, well-cared for dogs and their caretaker, Denise's sister Shelly. What a welcome! It is so good to be home. Unpacking, catching up, and entering back into the daily tasks feels so good.

Tonight I am looking forward to a good rest. Tomorrow, I may need to take one of the dogs to the vet - for a possible fox tail in her ear. Back to life as usual. How good! There is so much about the trip that I want to process and share. More in the days ahead.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

California, We Are Here!

"California or bust" has changed to "We made it!" Though not all the way to Upper Lake, we are finally back in California with one more day on the road to go! Today's trip was long and felt even  lo-o-onger as we traveled through the Mojave Desert toward Bakersfield. But there is so much beauty and diversity within the landscape, even when it seems to "look" the same, I watched the passing scenes with a deep sense of wonder!

John seemed to have had the same delight in the natural beauty that surrounded him. Among his many pictures (1000+) are scenes of waterfalls, cactus pocketed desert, barren trees, blossoming bushes, mountains, streams, deer, bears, elk, turtles, rabbits, and the list goes on. John had a photographer's eye and many of the pictures he took are striking, I am so grateful to have seen for myself some of the sights that caught his eye and imagination.

Before leaving for this tribute journey, I had removed John's photos from the albums where he had placed them in a somewhat random way. With some of the pictures I created an album to share at the memorial service. The rest ended up in a shoebox. Often as we have been driving home (and I have been the passenger) I would look at them and arrange them in categories. Most of the pictures are of the people who were part of John's life, but he also had photos of his truck parked in front of the places where he stopped to help, of the bedrooms where he stayed, and of the projects that he worked on. And, yes, of tables decorated for holidays and of food that was served. Each picture holds a memory. I am grateful to have them and to remember the stories that John shared about his life.

Taking it Easy

Standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona...

Friday, September 06, 2013

This very spot

 I almost titled this entry "Altered States" because after over two weeks on the road, from driving to accepting the hospitality of so many generous people and the kindness of strangers, I most certainly feel fundamentally changed.  As often happens, the outer world mirrors the inner world... here we are in the wide open southwest, seeking out the "four corners" --the spot where four states come together: New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.. 

There is a history of surveyor disagreement as to the EXACT spot, but popular lore and public outcry has affixed the marker in this very spot, and there it stays.  And to me, Pluto is still a planet too no matter what they say.
Loretta stands in four states
Close up

Four Corners

Places of Life and Welcome

Today we did something that John would never do - a little bit of sightseeing! Instead of going directly to our next stop over place we took a side trip to the Four Corners Monument. It is the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point. On August 23rd we drove in four states. Today we stood in four states at the same time: New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Plus we saw Shiprock, a monadnock rising nearly 1,583 feet above the high desert plain on the Navajo Nation, and other marvelous vistas and rock formations.

The highlight of our day was the time we spent with the community at the Desert House of Prayer in St. Michaels, AZ. For me, this included a chance to reconnect with one of my dearest friends, Sr. Nancy, who also knew and loved John. And we had the opportunity to tell the story of our tribute journey to others who were guests as well. Six of us sat around the dinner table sharing stories and delicious food from Judy's garden, a productive oasis in this desert land.

As I get ready for another restful night, I am aware of a deep connection between all the places that we have visited on this trip. They are places of life and welcome! Though they may seem to be located in out of the way places, they are peace-filled versions of "Grand Central Station". It was true at Rockhaven Ecozoic Center, at St. Francis / St. Emma, at Timberlake, and now here at the Desert. People are in and out - volunteering, bring fresh produce, stopping by to say "hi" or to seek advice, asking for prayer, checking on a scheduled activity, and so on. What a gift these places offer our world. No wonder John was drawn to visit and to serve!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Detours Can Be Blessings

Another day of driving through the beautiful, amazingly diverse, terrain of New Mexico until we reached "Colorful Colorado" as the welcome sign announced. We had decided to change our original travel plans so we could include Durango. We wanted to visit with Lora Cardarelli, a friend of ours and of John's. Lora and John had met each other at Rockhaven Ecozoic Center and had worked together there on a couple of projects. We told stories of John and caught up with each other's lives. Then, we enjoyed a delicious meal with Lora and her partner Molly before heading out again toward the setting sun.

Our "detour" may mean a fewer longer days of driving ahead but the time to connect was such a blessing. I have a deeper appreciation of why John often went out of his way to stop and visit new friends and old, as he traveled. Tired tonight and deeply grateful!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

"Devils Rope" and an Abandoned Brassiere Factory

What the heck is Devil's Rope and why would an entire "Route 66" museum be dedicated to it?
Tribute to Barbed Wire "Devil's Rope"

It turns out that there actual IS a   "Barbed Wire Historical society" and it has been their mission since the 1990's to amass all of the private collections of barbed wire into a single location.  They took over the abandoned bra factory in McLean, Texas (pop. 850) in 1991 opened their doors alongside the old route 66 and, well, the rest is history.

There are all sorts of tributes--in fact we are on a tribute journey.  This museum is a tribute to barbed
45 stars
Loretta with a "Route 66 Beer"
wire.  The museum sports two large balls of barbed wire in front  and a delightful docent named Alta who sold us a bottle of "Route 66 beer" (root beer) and really wanted us to see the US flag with only 45 stars.

Later we visited the Dinosaur Museum, a well-done display of artifacts and fossils, with plenty of fun Dinosaur facts.... and even a Dinosuar with a saddle.

Only on old Route 66.
Denise hangs on at the Dinosaur Museum on Old Route 66

"most this amazing day"

The day began early with a ho-hum drive out of Oklahoma into Texas. Flat land, glimpses of Route 66, and a couple of stops at interesting places made for a pleasant, but uneventful morning. Then we reached New Mexico. It was in the afternoon that the words of e.e. cummings came to my mind:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; . . .

We had one hope for this day connected to our tribute in memory of John - a visit with one of the many friends John made as he traveled across the country. I remember John talking about Don and his wife Gail. He met them when his beloved F-150 Ford pickup truck had problems in the desert area to the east of Albuquerque. 
John was on his way back to Brockton and was quite concerned about the noises and the difficulties he was having with his truck. Where to stop? How does one find a reliable auto mechanic in a new place far away from home? Trusting his gut John pulled off the interstate onto Route 66, and turned into Mt. View Auto Repair. There he met Don, who secured the needed part and fixed his car for a mere $30.00, way below what John thought he might have to pay for a new transmission. 
John spent the night at a nearby hotel, picked up his car the next day and in the process of talking with Don, a friendship was formed. John kept up with Don and Gail via phone calls and stopped to visit each time he passed by on one of his cross country trips. When John heard that Gail was seriously ill, he brought her some water that he felt had healing and strengthening powers. When he heard of her death, he cried as he shared the news with me on the phone.
Denise and I wanted to stop by and meet Don and let him know of John's death. We had very limited
Loretta and Don
information about Don gleaned from one of John's address books: a first name, the name of his business and a phone number, but the phone number didn't work! So we googled the business name, found an address and followed the google directions. No sign of Mountain View Auto Repair.  
Then serendipity came to our rescue. We spontaneously pulled into one of the businesses along Route 66 in Moriarity,NM, asked the first person we saw (who was just leaving as we pulled up), and he said, "Oh, Don moved years ago. He is now located at. . ."  Ten minutes later I was at Don's new business--East Mountain Auto and RV Repair--explaining to Don who I was and why I had stopped by.
Don's response to hearing of John's death was so simple it brought tears to my eyes - still does as I write this post. He said,  "John was a good man. He would stop by each time he came through, even brought water for my wife when she was ill". We visited for a bit and shared stories and exchanged information. (At least, now I have his last name, an email address and the new name of his business!) Once again I was moved by the awareness of how John went through this life touching people and creating a web of care - one person at a time. For most this amazing gift, I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Traveling Too Long

I noticed a few things today that may indicate that I have been traveling a little too long.

1) Last night I took everything out of my suitcase and repacked once again. However, this time I only put in what I needed for six days. Everything else went into an extra duffle bag that was shoved way back in the trunk of the car.

2) While we drove today, I paid more attention to billboards than usual. (Maybe because Missouri seems to have more than any other state that we have traveled through to date.) I even found myself reading them. One advertised "toasted ravioli". I was fascinated by the concept and asked Denise what that meant. She described the process of creating this delicacy and then said, "Why would anyone do that to a ravioli!" I laughed out loud and then chuckled for miles. Does traveling for twelve days make one silly?

3) I brought the bags and cooler that contain our food into the hotel room tonight and reorganized them. I checked and yes, we have enough for five more days of travel.

4) Thoughts of our farm, our dogs, and the things to be done when we return kept popping into my mind as the miles passed by. I must be getting ready for the traveling to end.

But meanwhile our journey continues. "What would John say to you about this trip, Loretta?" was the question Denise posed to me as we drove past Tulsa, OK. I paused for a moment and replied.
"He would say three things, 'Why did you spend money on this trip, Loretta?', 'Thank you so much for doing it!!' and 'If this trip is in my memory, why aren't you on the road at 4:00am like I was?' and then he would smile!" Denise reminded me that we are creating a tribute for John. We do not have to be John.

The turnpikes

From time to time as we traveled from House Springs Missouri through to Oklahoma, we catch a glimpse of the old Route 66.  For whatever reason, I have a fascination with Route 66... I'm not sure why.  Its hey day was well before my time, in fact it is of my parents generation, and the old, now dilapidated, malt shoppes, dusty motels, gas stations with a grouchy mechanic are from a bygone era, one of innocence at having taken the whole continent and turned it into... kitsch I guess.

Perhaps my fascination stems from the 1949 classic book by George Stewart: Earth Abides, a dystopic tale of the demise of all but a few humans and what Earth does without us.  The book was formative for me, and I read it four or five times while in high school.  I have always wondered what the land was like when it was still wild, before we started pouring concrete... and what it would be like again if we just stopped doing what we do.

In the book, the main character, Ishmael, decides to travel across the US to find signs of human
beings who survive a catastrophic epidemic .  He takes Route 66.   Something as simple as a tree falling across the road renders the route impassable.  In the scheme of things, eventually all the concrete get reclaimed by forest and prairie and the story is as much about what Earth does without "man" (remember the book was written in 1949) as it is about the small cadre of humans that survive and try to recreate civilization.

Today, Route 66 has been replaced by a four lane interstate and, of course, the turnpikes.  All of the abandoned sections of old Route 66 are being reclaimed by nature, the first phase of this reclamation is taken on by the most aggressive weeds poking through cracks in the pavement.  With each winter freeze and spring rain, cracks grow wider and deeper.  Soon, trees may sprout.

the passenger side
Today, it seems the character of the former Route 66 is a shadow of what it once was.  Interstate 44 from St.Louis to Oklahoma City is a wide swath of road that connects unremarkable fast food chains to each other.  You pay toll to ride these stretches on a series of turnpikes.  As far as I can tell, "turnpike" means you pay a toll to drive on the road and keep it drive-able, lest the elements take it too.

Monday, September 02, 2013

"Love and Peace to the Whole World--Think It and Make it Happen"

As we left Louisville, KY, this morning, we skirted around the city and passed by the KFC Yum! Center. Sometimes I wonder what future generations will think of us when they unearth our cultural icons?

The fog was soupy as we drove into Indiana. For at least fifty miles, we could not see clearly ahead of or around us. The driving was not difficult if I paid attention to the road right in front of me and the cars around me. I decided to make that the mantra for the day and for the rest of our journey – paying attention one mile at a time – living each day one moment at a time. At. 9:00AM (Pacific Time) we joined with people across the globe for a ten-minute focused prayer for a peaceful solution to the crisis around the possible U.S. intervention in Syria.” Love and Peace to the Whole World – Think It and Make It Happen.”

Driving for long distances provides plenty of time and freedom for reflection. Today I was remembering John’s story of his website came into being. “In the fall of 2005 while I was visiting and working at Green Mountain Monastery, I started thinking about tying all the places that are earth friendly together on a website. Aware of the cost I decided to wait until I hit the lottery.” John then described the places he visited for the next two years and how each experience drew him closer to Mother Earth.

Then he wrote what I consider my lesson for today. “In March of 2007 while sorting through my papers I came across what I had written at Green Mountain Monastery in 2005. I decided – given my awareness of how Mother Earth is being destroyed daily – I could not wait to hit the lottery to begin tying places together. I had to start now with what I had. I contacted Denise Rushing at Dancing TreePeople Orchard and Farm for assistance in setting up a website. www.people4motherearth.net was created."

I am reminded of Drew Dellinger's powerful question: What did you do once you knew?

Our Labor Day Journey: Day in Pictures

Sept 2, 2013
On the external journey: we travel through the heartland through three states, crossing bridges in Louisville, KY, the Ohio River and the Mighty Mississippi.

The internal journey is also through the heartland too, a pause that allows a reconnection to center.  I feel strength gathering and clarity of purpose... and a deep deep gratitude for the journey itself, for all those who have supported us on this path, and for the earth centers whose fidelity to their mission is even more apparent when viewed over time.

I am preparing the soil right now for the inevitable choices ahead.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Taking the Easy Way Out

I have walked the labyrinth many times. Each time the "journey in" has been profound. I set an intention and begin walking - following the path faithfully. I feel confident that I will arrive at the center. So when the way seems to curve away, I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually I reach the center with a feeling of accomplishment and peace. Usually I sit down on the ground or floor and wait for an answer, a message, or a realization that it is time to stand up and leave the labyrinth.

The way out is to retrace the path until one arrives where one began. It is then that I often feel a desire rise up within me: " Take the easy way out!" Just walk over the path's boundaries and you will be finished and free to go. To date I have never done that because I know the blessings and the insights that come as I have taken the time to walk out with as much fidelity as I gave to walking in.

Today, as we departed from Belmead, the labyrinth came to mind. We had reached the center - the Ritual: Remembering John is completed. Why not take the "easy way out"? Hurry home and be finished with the tribute journey. Instead as we drove through the hills of Virginia and West Virginia, I sense a recommitment to this trip in memory of John. As we passed by rivers and lakes, I silently spoke  as John always did, "Thank you, Water." Denise and I recalled the gift of yesterday's memorial service and were grateful for those who touched John's life with love and honesty. And most important we asked John and those who have gone before us to help us in the days ahead to see clearly the path we are to take.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ritual: Remember John

Memorial for John
We gathered this evening on the east patio of the Mansion overlooking the road where John spent
Loretta and Christina honor John
Walking down the hill to the grotto
many hours clearing the gutters of leaves and weeds, so that the beauty of this place would be "unblemished". We were sprinkled with special water that John had brought here on his many trips. We sat in a circle and told stories of John - his generosity, impatience, love of Earth and of children, need for control, his transformation, and his deep gratitude for water and for the food placed before him. We read letters from some of his friends thanking him for the ways he touched their lives and the lives of their grandchildren. We listened to songs that spoke of "everything being holy now" and "our blue boat home"- both by Peter Mayer. We read the names of all the children to whom John dedicated his website. We sent "Love and Peace to the Whole World. Think It and Make It Happen" into the Universe. We celebrated the gift of John's life.

Christina Kemp and Sr. Beulah Martin
Impending Storm
And then, we brought John's ashes down the hill to a grotto circling a statue of Mary and returned him to the Earth he loved. Dark clouds had been gathering, so we hurried inside for a delicious meal. And then the rains and lightning and thunder came. What a blessing! Thank you, John!

The horse licked my hand

Denise holds up the granary

The horse-- now nicknamed  "licker"
Loretta and I hiked to the Belmead granery.  It was built in the mid 1840s, during the southern plantation era, by enslaved people.  Loretta and John were both instrumental in stabilizing the granary with the hopes that it would one day become an earth and environmental education center in the Thomas Berry tradition.  It now has a new slate roof and the large original timbers  have been reinforced, so that dream is indeed possible.  

On our return walk, we encountered two women on horseback near the riding stables.  Normally, I shy away from horses (allergies) but I was drawn to greet this horse and pat it on the nose.  I let the horse sniff my hand--and then it licked me!  A big wet slobbery lick right on the back of my hand.

I looked up the symbolism of "horse" -- it is reclaiming power to run and to vision.  The message for today: enter darkness, find illuminating vision and do not forget to play.  Strive for balance.  Heal mother Earth through compassion, caring, teaching, loving and sharing your gifts, talents and abilities.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Day at Belmead

What a day this has been! First, it has been a joy not to be moving along the highway - staying still and resting has been delightful. And even more delightful has been exploring the improvements to the building and the grounds since John, Denise and I were here three years ago. It is wonderful to experience the aliveness of this place and the many offerings being developed with and for the surrounding community.
The sign at the entrance to Belmead describes well what is happening here because a small group of women are gently and wisely caring for this precious piece of Earth and the story it holds. I feel sure that John is amazed also. He spent many weeks helping here over the years and believed this to be a special place. Be sure to check out their website at: http://www.francisemma.org

The day had a few "adventures" that make it clear that I am about tribute making as well as enjoying the great hospitality of the Sisters. I spent a couple of hours this morning searching for my car keys. I looked off and on in a peaceful way - eating breakfast, checking in my suitcase and other bags, writing in my journal, looking in the trunk of the car. No panic - Denise was helping and we had another set - no problem. I was very aware that I was grieving. Losing important belongings mirrors the loss I am feeling deep inside. So I continued to breathe, asked John for help, and found them where I had put them the night before.

John's photos, drying out after my mishap
The afternoon excitement came as I was doing a final sorting of the photos from John's many albums. Most of the pictures were neatly stacked on the desk where I was working. I reached for a glass of water - thankfully almost empty - knocked it over - and fifteen minutes later the floor was a vast array of scenes from John's life. I had often thought of doing that as an easy way of sorting. I just hadn't intended for them to be wet! Creating a tribute means dealing the messes that have been part of a relationship. I don't need to understand how, but all the feelings that have been part of this day are leading me to the core of this tribute - our ritual tomorrow: Remembering John.

Belmead on the James River

The Mansion at Belmead -- Our room is the second upper window from the left.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy Birthday John

Today John would have been 74 years old. It is his birthday and we are the ones who received the gifts!

1) a wonderful lunch with Carolyn Toben and Anita McLeod at Timberlake Farm (Whitsett, NC), where the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World holds its varied programs.
We had come unannounced, hesitated slightly at the entrance when we read a large sign: Visitors by Appointment Only, forged ahead anyway, and were very warmly welcomed. Our time there was truly blessed - good food, engaging conversation, story sharing, and a grand tour of the farm.

Carolyn Tobin, Anita McLeod and Loretta McCarthy
at Timberlake Farm Earth Sanctuary
Denise at the outdoor chapel, Timberlake Farm Earth Sanctuary
Read the inscription above the entrance in Latin:
"Bidden or Unbidden, God is Present."

Loretta leaves a gift with Kwan Yin
at the marsh creek bridge, Timberlake Farm Earth Sanctuary
2) our arrival at St. Francis / St. Emma around 7:00pm (Eastern Time) - another embracing welcome! More tomorrow - for now a good night's sleep.

Today: Thomas Berry Inspired Earth Centers

 From Timberlake Farm Earth Sanctuary to St. Francis/St. Emma in Powhaten, VA, today the presence of Thomas Berry was evident.  Serendipity led us to the beautiful meeting at Timberlake where we conversed about Thomas (and John).  I was taken with the place and the energies that created it and reminded that we need our great story to guide us along with inspiration from within.  I also found myself sharing so much about what was happening at home in Lake County around local food, timebanking and entrepreneurship and noticed an overwhelming sadness well up within me when I shared the plight of our local watershed and the struggle to protect it.
Timberlake Farm Earth Sanctuary in NC
Welcome to VA
Belmead, --St. Francis/St. Emma,
Powhaten, VA

Belmead Mansion --St. Francis/St. Emma, VA

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

At Home in the Rolling Hills

Today's drive felt very familiar. I have traveled these highways before: I-75 and I-40. Billboards advertised places I have visited: Knoxville, Asheville, and Gatlinburg, to name a few. A bit of nostalgia took hold of me as we drove through the rolling hills of Kentucky and Tennessee into North Carolina. I thought of the many years that I spent in Atlanta and the times John came by for a visit to help out at Maisha House of Prayer where I ministered. Even after I left Georgia, John would visit my friends and their families. They became his friends as well.

One of my Atlanta friends texted me this morning to let me know that she was praying with us as we traveled. Because our journey does not include Atlanta, Debby and I decided to chat via phone once I stopped for the night. I remember how much John loved to stop by and spend time with the Freel family. It felt so good to reconnect and then to read the post on the website about their remembering of John tonight.

In remembrance of John, we were telling stories around the dinner table with the kids since tomorrow is his birthday. They remember when he visited us to bring an Earth ball, Love and Peace t-shirts, books to inspire us. Mary said, "I like how he came here PERSONALLY to visit us and give us those gifts!" Yes, he will continue to inspire our family to love and protect our Earth, and love all the people who call Earth home. We miss you dear John...may you have Love and Peace in heaven and on Earth always.

Thomas Berry: The Dream of the Earth

From Hebron, KY
Through Tennessee

To Marion, NC
Fr. Thomas Berry

  Tomorrow we visit Thomas Berry's birthplace and the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World in Greensboro, NC.  Thomas died on June 1 of 2009 and John attended his memorial service. 

Thomas Berry's saw Earth as sacred reality.  Author of The Dream of the Earth and many other books, his work continues to inspire many earth workers, including me.

We have traveled a long way to arrive at this place.   

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Seeing John though Different Eyes

I have always loved my brother John. We are only a year and a few months apart in age. He was always there! In grade school we were even in the same classroom every other year. (St Casimer's was a small school in the Lithuanian Village with two grades in the same room with the same teacher.) We split for high school and then his time in the Marines and my time in formation as a Sister of the Blessed Sacrament. But from 1963 onward every place I lived John came to visit at least once - more often multiple times.

Today as we visited with two women of whom John spoke so highly - Sr. Mary Lou Dolan (Sister of Providence - St. Mary-of-the-Woods) and Sr. Karla Barker (Sister of St. Francis-  Oldenburg) I saw into John's life more deeply. Sr. May Lou was not expecting us. When I mentioned John's name, her face lit up and she said, "How is John doing these days?" I told her of his death and she responded, "Heaven is a better place now that John is there." My heart melted. After lunch in the Sister's dining room we had a chance to visit Sister at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice where she spends time "skirting" alpaca wool in the afternoon. She spoke of her delight in John's finding her when he stopped by each year - wherever she was on the campus John always tracked her down.

Sr. Karla spoke of John's bimonthly calls to her when she moved back to the Motherhouse from her long time stay as a staff member at Springbank Retreat Center in South Carolina and his visits to her place in Oldenburg, IN. John found it fascinating that she was living in a former bank building with the teller windows and huge vault still in place with different uses. We spoke of John's gentle spirit and his embracing kindness. I feel as if today I have been given a deeper insight into who John was - a good man - simple and steadfast in love and friendship. I am very grateful.

And oh, by the way, we were in five states today. How good  is that!

A Day in Pictures

Montage of the Day of Travel
...from Rockhaven in Missouri to Illinois to Indiana (twice), where we stopped at St. Mary of the Woods (White Violet Center for Eco Justice and CSA) and Michaela Farms and a visit with Sister Karla Barker, Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenberg, Indiana and then through Ohio to Kentucky.  I LOVE all the people we met who have devoted their lives to working for Earth.   Whew, what a day.

Loretta with Sister Karla Barker

Denise at Michaela Farm
Loretta in front of the CSA produce at White Violet Center

Monday, August 26, 2013

Resting a Bit

Today was a day off - off the road that is! We took time to enjoy the beauty of Rockhaven, the hospitality of the Jan, Diza and Maco, and the opportunity to share numerous stories about John. It is delightful to be with women who knew John so well and loved and appreciated him just as he was. We recalled his stroke here in 2007 and how he insisted that Jan and Diza take him to the VA hospital because as a Marine his health care coverage was there. Following his slurred directions from the back seat of the car, they arrived at a VA extended care center and administration office building. No more listening to John's advice - instead they took him to the nearest hospital where he was admitted and treated and then cared for at Rockhaven until he was able to travel.

It was at Rockhaven that John learned to honor the food that he ate. With the meal on the table, the blessing prayer included a description of the food and where it had been grown, how it had been prepared and who had prepared each dish. For a hungry man who sat down ready to eat, this was a challenge at first, but gradually John came to appreciate the ritual and enjoy the moment and the information shared. It change his relationship to food in a profound way.

I have felt John's spirit here in many ways. I am grateful that he is so strongly connected to this place.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rockhaven Hospitality

Rockhaven Ecozoic Center...  Feels like home.   We will take a couple of days here in House Springs to remember John and catch up with Jan, Diza and Maco. 

Loretta has hundreds of photos of John spread out on the dining room table...  recreating a photo album for his memorial service in Virginia in a few days.  Signs of John are everywhere here at Rockhaven, a place he loved and with people who loved him.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sun and Wind Power - NOW!

Today we drove through Kansas. No sign of "Dorothy or Toto", but abundant sightings of wind turbines creating energy as they turned slowly on the hillsides. Denise and I realized that this is a new addition to the landscape along I-70, from when we had traveled this way almost five years ago. There may have been a few then, but now they are plentiful.

John's passion for promoting his project: "Love and Peace to the Whole World" went through many transitions. In fact it started as " Mother Earth against Money" until he had a conversation with Denise in 2006 about setting up a website for his dream. She encouraged him to put a positive spin on his message and so, "People 4 Mother Earth" was conceived. Each year John created a new bumper sticker. In 2009 the message was: Sun and Wind Power Now! Though John recognized, as we do, the hazards that come along with wind turbines, he felt strongly that there was an urgent need to create alternative forms of  energy. Hopefully we will continue to find nonviolent ways to harness the energies that surround us.

Friday, August 23, 2013

One Day - Four States

The driving was easy - mostly straight and relatively flat. With a speed limit of 75mph, except in some construction spots, and two drivers we chose to travel over 720 miles so we could take it a little easier when we got into more congested areas. We started in Utah, drove through Wyoming and Colorado, and are ready for a good night's sleep in Goodland, Kansas. John is surely pleased with us. :-)

I've noticed that people ask one of two questions when we stop for gas or something to eat. "Where are you from? or "Where are you going?" We certainly have the look of being "tourists". Yesterday in Utah the first question was predominate. We usually answered with "Lake County" or "northern California", but when the clerk in a store in Winnemucca asked, we said Upper Lake in Lake County. Her response: "I used to live in Lake County: Lower Lake to be exact. I am going there next week to visit a friend in Hidden Valley Lake." Small world, after all!

In Wyoming today the second question seemed to be more popular. "Where are you going?" Telling them "Virginia" led to a puzzled look and a "that's a mighty long way" response. A wonderful opening for us to tell the story of our travel tribute in memory of John - his five cross country trips to help out at Earth Spirituality Centers during the last decade of his life. A simple story that seems to touch people and elicit hope and admiration.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Now in Salt "Lake County", Utah

We traveled a little over 500 miles today. My brother John came to my mind often. John would travel seven, sometimes eight, hundred miles, in one day and he always did the speed limit!! It took him a lot of hours, but he woke up early, stopped for short breaks when needed, and pulled into a motel before he got overly tired. He almost always traveled alone. (Hard to imagine since our day was filled with each other's companionship and conversation.) But John kept busy thinking through his next step for his projects, remembering his visit with the people at the center he had just left, and anticipating what was ahead at the next stop. He also carried on "conversations" with people he cared about. who had passed on: among them Sr. Bea and Mother Katharine, and with a small stuffed animal named Joey. His dashboard held many mementos: plush animals, pictures, etc. He found deep peace being on the road. Today we did too and we are grateful.

Angels travel with us

Taken in the skies over Nevada today

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

From California to Nevada

The day began with a flock of hummingbirds wishing us a joy-filled trip – right in the middle of the food forest at Dancing TreePeople. As we entered the Sierra Nevada dark clouds and lightning hurried us through the mountains. A brief stop at the Emigrant Museum at Donner Pass brought the farm back to our minds – among the native animal species displayed (stuffed, of course) was a ground squirrel – the “arch enemy” of organic walnut orchards.

The best part of our day was having lunch in Sacramento with Zac Sergio and his mother, Nina. They
have been friends with John for years. It was good to share stories from the past and to hear of present happenings and future plans. Zac is in college – his second year – and hopes to study psychiatry. I can almost see John’s smile and feel his pride – John followed Zac’s life as a loving grandfather would.

We had a simple supper at an Asian restaurant near our hotel – delicious noodle soup. My fortune: Connect with good friends at a distance. Tell them what is happening. Seriously that is what it said. Now it is time for a good night’s

Travel Day, 5:40am

We begin this tribute journey, from our place of beginning, with a ritual fire.  We bring with us Upper Lake cedar which we will share with other ritual fires at the Earth Spirituality centers we visit in the coming days and weeks.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wonderful gathering - great send-off!

Our evening event was truly successful - delicious, mostly seasonal, food and plenty of time for networking. Plus a marvelous speaker on a timely topic: Access to Capital. After hearing that we would be leaving in the morning, everyone pitched in to help with the clean up. In fifteen minutes everything was put away, then conversations continued with many well wishes for our travels. We even watched the rise of a full moon. We feel blessed.
So off to bed tonight with grateful hearts. We will rise early tomorrow for some last minute packing and a few farm tasks yet to be done. And then we are on our way!

Our Starting Place

Dancing TreePeople Farm.
The evening before we begin our journey--Thrive Lake County hosts it's quarterly meeting.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Tribute Journey, flurry of activity.

Before we go...   fifty to a hundred people are visiting the farm tomorrow for an event.  Yikes.  Be sure to check back here to see if we have maintained our sanity... we set out on the tribute journey on Wednesday morning. 

I'm still figuring out what to pack, giving instructions to the caregivers at the farm, saying goodbye to the dogs and chickens, and setting an intention for the journey.

This is, first and foremost, a tribute to John.  In some ways, for me, it is a  reminder of how one person, with a simple intention, and inspiration, can make a huge difference in the lives of those he encounters.

My personal intention for this journey is to travel day by day with John's spirit in mind, and to pay attention.  I suspect there will be unexpected gifts and signs along the way.

In the words of John McCarthy:
"Love and Peace to the Whole World.  Think It and Make it Happen."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Tribute Journey -- Preparation

On August 21st, we will embark on a cross- country trip as a tribute to the memory of Loretta's brother John and his deep love for Mother Earth.  In the next weeks, we will share more about John and we invite you to both join us on a journey of tribute to him and to reflect on your own journey.

Loretta writes:
"I learned about “tribute making” in 2000 while participating in a twelve-week grief recovery program, The Phoenix Project, led by Dr. Jack Miller. Tribute making involves an outer expression of an inner truth that one has grown to understand through an honest and loving grief process.

Tributes can be a simple as writing a poem, as complicated as digging a new well, and as creative as producing a book or collage that captures the loved one’s life story.  It all depends on who is creating the tribute and who is being remembered. Creating and embarking on this trip as our tribute has unfolded as a powerful healing experience for both of us.

With this trip we want to do four things:
  1. Honor John’s generous, simple spirit,
  2. Collect stories for the book we will be writing about the last decade of John’s life,
  3. Spread John’s message of love and peace to the whole world as we travel and
  4. Give John one last trip across the country.
John deeply desired to make one more trip, but his diminishing health hindered him.  So we are making this final trip for him.  We will be bringing John's remains to their final resting place St. Francis/St. Emma in Powhatan, VA and will celebrate his life with a Ritual: Remembering John on August 31st at 5:30PM, followed by a potluck meal.

You are invited to come along with us in spirit as we travel.  You can do this in a number of ways: Join us in thought and prayer and/or contribute toward the expenses of our trip and, at the same time, support one of the places dear to John’s heart. If you live close enough, join us for the ritual of remembrance. For more information and a chance to participate in this tribute, please visit our Journey for John page at: http://www.people4motherearth.net

Loretta McCarthy (also known as Earthwalker) is deeply engaged in tending and cultivating the garden of the soul, through spiritual companioning and soulwork adventures.  Contact Loretta  here.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Spring Planting at Leonardis Organics

Denise and Loretta from Dancing TreePeople Farm help Jim Leonardis with spring planting.  Leonardis Organics provides much of the organic produce for the Lake County Co-op.