It’s December 21 and I’m counting my blessings and celebrating all the gifts that 2012 brought my way – and giving thanks in advance for all that the future is likely to bestow.
Life has been incredibly kind to me and never more so than during the past few weeks at Findhorn: on November 17 my adopted community celebrated 50 years as a force for positive change and pioneer of new ways of living harmoniously and sustainably. It was a party to remember.
And what a joy it has been in the weeks leading up to a birthday bash attended by so many early residents and new visitors alike. The emphasis was on fun and the atmosphere charged with excitement and feelings of immense love, joy and gratitude. There were so many smiling faces everywhere.
The Findhorn Foundation community has touched so many lives and it is significant to note that the Findhorn website reaches hundreds of thousands of people each year in more than 200 countries around the globe. What a legacy!
While the celebrated community first appeared on my personal radar a few years ago, it was only at the beginning of 2009 that I first visited and fell under the spell of the feel-good story of faith, perseverance and hope that resonates with young and old alike, attracting thousands of visitors and programme participants each year. For most it is a joyful heart-opening experience.
It was here that I felt inspired to begin walking with a message about treading more lightly and lovingly upon our beautiful Earth, and here that I returned more than 8-million footsteps later to participate in the birthday preparations and celebrations. I’ve rarely felt more fulfilled!
In recent weeks I was privileged to address the Love, Magic and Miracles Conference (read about it here), published my Lost and Found book (available from Findhorn Press or Amazon), worked with a fun-loving team in the kitchen and shared the joy in honouring a half-century committed to awakening the highest in human potential.
What fun it has been to look back on those early pioneering days. It was half a century ago on November 17, 1962 that the community and ecovillage had its inauspicious and unlikely beginnings alongside a rubbish dump in a bleak, wintry dunescape near the historic village of Findhorn in north-eastern Scotland.
Sacked hotel manager Peter Caddy and his wife Eileen parked their caravan at the Findhorn Bay Caravan Park, hoping to figure out what to do next and be on their way within days. With them were their three young sons and close friend Dorothy Maclean.
Never for a moment did those three now-famous adults guess that they were the nucleus of what would become an internationally renowned spiritual community, holistic learning centre and pioneering member of the Global Ecovillage Network; the community being awarded best practice status by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements while co-founder Eileen Caddy received an MBE from the Queen for her services to spiritual inquiry.
Think back to those early beginnings and it is a very different world we find, although many of today’s challenges are surprisingly similar.
It was in 1962 that President John F Kennedy imposed a naval blockade on Cuba; Marilyn Monroe was found dead of a suspected overdose; East German border guards shot an attempted escapee and left him to die on the Berlin Wall; the US landed a rocket on the moon and the protest voice of a young Bob Dylan was being heard. The Rolling Stones formed the world’s most enduring rock ‘n’ roll band and Beatlemania gripped young people everywhere with the launch of the Fab Four’s first single, Love Me Do.
The thing the Sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.
Findhorn trustee Robin Alfred observes: “The Findhorn Foundation community is a place of hope. A symbol. A group of people with good intentions seeking to live a life inspired, moment by moment, with love, kindness, generosity, compassion, gratitude and service. A practical embodiment of spiritual values.
“On a good day we almost manage to achieve it. On a bad day we fail, but we fail with awareness and come back the next day striving to do better.”
My friend Gabrielle Hamm is one of a new generation, who insists: “The old ways aren’t working and here we are constantly invited to question and seek new and better ways of being in community and together upon this Earth.”
Close friend John Willoner, who arrived in 1967, remembers a dunescape devoid of flowers and birdlife where we now find organic vegetable gardens, Eco homes (some fashioned from discarded whisky barrels), solar panels, whirling wind turbines that harness electricity, and an ingenious waste water treatment system that was the first of its kind in Europe.
And one thing that hasn’t changed is that the original caravan is still there as an eloquent reminder of all that has passed and been achieved, while 92-year-old Dorothy Maclean, the sole surviving co-founder, continues to inspire with her presence and energy, enjoying daily walks through the ecovillage.
She’s become a valued friend and has often delighted me with her quick wit and sense of humour when I delivered her supper, or shared a nature film with her.
During the past few weeks I have made many wonderful new friends and was honoured to stay in Evelyn’s, one of the famous early bungalows, which enjoys an unrivalled view over the original garden and caravan, where it all began.
Findhorn for me is a place of inspiration and transformation that provides the tools with which to build a more meaningful life rooted in service and unsurprisingly my book is dedicated both to my daughters and the pioneering community:
“For Tammy and Bonnie and all Gaia Earth’s children.
“And to the Findhorn Foundation community that inspires me and is a sheltering tree when I know not where my footsteps will lead me.”
Roll on 2013!