The birthday dinner in the Community Centre was a graceful evening, with over 240 people enjoying a delicious meal of salmon en croute, one of the rare occasions when it’s not vegetarian fare! The most enormous birthday cake was on display complete with a colourful candle for every year. Our delightful Dorothy did the honours cutting the first piece and the three Caddy boys said a few words.
I felt honoured to be witnessing a very special moment in the history of our community. The poignancy was held in an atmosphere of celebration as the excitement from the week continued to build for the Grand Birthday sharing of Saturday evening, presented by our returning members in the Universal Hall that many had helped build decades before.
Somehow they managed to find the time during the full schedule of the birthday celebrations and numerous fringe events to plan the show that would delight us for the next few hours. There have been many stories over the years of the humourous skits during the 70s and now it was our opportunity to re-live that era with many of the same performers!
Michael Mitton, sharing the role of MC, encouraged everyone to bunch up and feel the love, to make space for the extra people who continued to fill the Hall. Alongside Loren Stewart and Michael Schnadt, our three hosts for the evening looked striking in their traditional Scottish kilts complete with accessories.
The evening began with gratitude and a beautiful exchange of gifts in mutual recognition and appreciation. Eian Smith, Listener Convener of the New Findhorn Association, presented Ana Rhodes, Focaliser of the Foundation, with an original painting of the Devas by Brian Nobbs. Ana gifted Eian with a fledgling tree grown in the nursery of the Park Garden, representing the common ground of all of us and honouring the growth of relationship.
The various skits of the night included song, dance, comedy, poetry and painting. Pamala Joy the clown met Duncan Easter the balloon guy; Philip Milburn shared a song about transformation born in the music room many years ago and completed only this week, called Don’t Run Away; Sheila Pettit, a musician who lives in the community, played an enchanting song composed on the piano especially for the birthday, while Barbara accompanied her on flute.
Sara Brockbank strode confidently onto centre stage and shared words about friendship, old and new, offered to everyone on behalf of everyone. Words that captured the essence, in many ways, of this great weeklong gathering.
I’m glad our paths crossed and I’m glad that we met
For all that transpires, be it bitter or sweet
May it help make your life’s pattern a bit more complete
So sometime in the future may you look back and say
Our meeting was indeed a very lucky day.
In clever response to the multimedia show on the opening night of the birthday week, Loren and Lee appeared before us on the big screen. Dressed as Aaron and Moses, explorers in the wilderness of the familiar dunes out yonder, they searched for the Promised Land. “Do you think they’ll be caravans in the Promised Land?” asked Aaron. “Of course!” Moses replied. The grainy footage tricked our minds into believing we were witness to an ancient journey as Moses joked about the burning bush and made fun of ourselves in the spirit of the old days, “Who takes guidance from vegetation?”
Skit after skit continued until nearly midnight. One of my favourites was Mary Inglis, Joy Drake and Kathy Tyler perched on high stools, arms bent and hands tucked under their armpits. Tentatively flapping their wings at first I thought they were angels, contemplating the earth below. “It’s a long, long way down,” said one. “Will our wings work?” wondered another.
Struggling slightly with the script they each had resting on their laps, the skit was funny in the hint of awkwardness and became hilarious when Kathy fell out of character and declared to the audience, “I didn’t write this!” The great sense of humour and long years of friendship between them was evident, to the delight of everyone in the Hall. The three baby birds contemplating flight for the first time, Kathy ready to dive in and Joy and Mary carefully considering all the possibilities, was a highlight of the night!
Alice Weibull who arrived as a young woman in the early 70s sang a few verses of the 40 verse Fairy Song, along with her three children, which was for a time one of the anthems of the community. There were moments of great laughter and quiet contemplation throughout the evening. In silence we watched a memorial presentation on the big screen, a requiem to all the members who have now passed on. Their many names appeared one by one to the music of the Celtic prayer, Deep Peace of the Running Wave, as we honoured their unique contribution.
One of the Resource People of the Foundation, Ryuichi Ide, had created a short video clip that he dedicated to the Network of Light and we listened to Eileen’s gentle voice against the backdrop of images around The Park. The Erraid Community sang us Happy Birthday via video and the entire evening was streamed via the internet to our global family around the world.
We closed our eyes in the customary moment of silence and then to my great surprise the sounds of the Hans Poulsen song One Incredible Family came piping through the sound system! The night merged into one long, joyous celebration, with love and laughter in the air we danced and sang, filled with gratitude for being part of this special place, for helping to shape it over the years as we ourselves are shaped by the spirit of Findhorn.
(Click on the image below to enjoy One Incredible Family.)