There was excitement and true joy in meeting in a new setting as we laughed and told stories and vied for the single beds in the glassed-in living room that faced the pale pink dawn, the comfortingly rounded rocks, and the view of the soft ochres and greens of the desert valley below.
We agreed we wanted to create an art project as a group, one that was effortless. It was important to be doing some tangible thing that represented pure joy. After ten ideas, a group-art mandala emerged. Each person took colored pencils to the large paper adding to a concentric design. The magic of each person's input created a beautiful colorful mandala. Who knew it would become the birthday card for one of us the next day?
We intentionally cooked slow-food meals together. Did the homeowner know we would not want to be tempted with the presence of a microwave? There is wizardry in using a seemingly mundane process like communal cooking as a jumping point for remembering food stories, conjuring forgotten, blissful, childhood tastes, and most of all creating new community memories.
Slowing ourselves down, we spied wildlife without ever having to leave the house. Orange and yellow mallows bobbed in the breeze, lizards and ground squirrels went about their soulful sunning, alternately exploring and relaxing. We were reminded to honor their choices and apply them to ourselves. And so we walked a wilderness trail in the spring desert. An exquisite blue sky was filled with sweeping clouds. The Joshua Trees were almost ready to burst. Tiny purple and yellow sand blooms effortlessly welcomed and beckoned us on the trail, bouncing back resiliently after each step. They know that living sparely and close to the earth can be a beautiful way of life.
We sat together in several council circles under two large wispy mesquite trees which danced with each gust of wind that puffed up the cliff onto our natural perch. The trees remind us that in harsh desert life the tiny-leafed plants survive best. How did they learn this permaculture principle that wanting less builds resilience? In council circles we speak from the heart, one at a time responding to a particular prompt. The feeling is akin to a group mindfulness practice. It allows Spirit to guide us and bonds us more closely.
We realized after a time that what we have been doing all these years in Transition has been alchemical* in nature and has led to many magical manifestations. We reaffirmed to each other that the more we speak and share the vision, the more we manifest the reality. And that with a connection to the alchemy we are golden. The Mesquite trees called us to dance in the wind with them at our final departure.
Transition Pasadena's Vision Statement is "Community so vibrant with connection to self, others and Earth that living in harmony with all life is second nature." It is based on the Core Values we established in our infancy. Those Core Values are based on our local group's connection to the global Transition Network. The Values are Joy, Visioning, Doing, Community, and Honoring the Web of Life.
Our core values intentionally create a path. There must be Joy in coming together. As a group we must hold a Vision for a more beautiful, livable world and for the very specifics of a project. Then comes the Doing, together, with joy and fun. On this path we build resilient Community. The reinforcement then comes from the ethers in the form of, as Eco Philosopher Joanna Macy says, "seeing with new eyes" ways to Honor the interconnected Web of all Life.
And so new ideas and energy emerge for new projects. As Earth Day approaches we feel revitalized to be attentive to our elusive alchemy.
*alchemical: a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way (Merriam Webster)