There’s a moment, walking between the apple trees and the wall of the red house, with these two brothers who were born here. One of them lifts the lid of the well and we peer down into the stone-walled water — and it hits me. We are not simply buying a property, we are taking custody of all this: the patch of land, the two houses on it, the trees and the well and the stories these men carry. With luck, with care, we may yet be grafting our own story onto these roots.
It happened like this.
With the unfinished histories of racism, colonialism and white supremacy in the United States (and beyond) at the top of the news headlines and weighing on our hearts, Rev. Sara Jolena Wolcott joined us from California to reflect on our shared inheritance of false security and unjust systems. We recorded this conversation as a follow-up to the live session held on 8th June, 2020 — a chance to share Sara’s work with those of you who missed that session and to ask some of the questions from participants that Sara didn’t have time to answer on that call.
On 8th June, 2020, we hosted a public session called When Your Ancestors Are The Problem with guest teacher Rev. Sara Jolena Wolcott. This grew out of conversations with participants in our first Homeward Bound series — and the invitation was to any of us around the world in need of a space to reflect on our shared inheritance of false security and unjust systems. We got to know Sara when Dougald worked with her on the text that became this essay, ‘From the Darkness’, originally published in Dark Mountain: Issue 12 (SANCTUM). We’re republishing her essay now to accompany…
What’s the heart of the offering I’m making with Homeward Bound? I sat with this question, and another question came by way of answer: suppose that I had two months to live, and I had the energy to spend one evening a week speaking with a group of people who had been touched in some way by my words and my work — what would I teach them, in the time that I had left? Because that’s what I want to offer here.
There are two threads that I want to follow, through the next eight weeks. One is a…
‘Don’t try to solve the dramas that arise when you are not clear. Abandon the drama and invest everything in being clear. If you learn how to be clear, drama comes to an end.’
So, here we are at the end. We made it, we got to the punchline!
The story of these lines I’ve been following goes back a thousand years. The way Charlie tells it, they are the words of a teacher saying farewell to his students. He’s been with them for two years, teaching them what he knows, and he’s about to set off for home. They…
‘If you don’t understand how things work, you will never be clear about anything. Get clear about how things work.’
One day in the first half of the 1980s, my dad came home with a BBC Model B. I remember the presence of this object, the texture and form of its casing, the weight I attached to it. Even secondhand, it must have cost a fortune by our standards and I doubt if my mum was impressed, but here it was: a box of the future had arrived in our lives.
We subscribed to Acorn User magazine and I would…
‘Following distractions is a waste of your life. Improve your concentration.’
I’m trying to concentrate on the serious subject of distraction, when my mind wanders to an image of a toy. I don’t know what they are called, but maybe you’ve seen one — an inflatable ball which has a smaller ball inside, so that it doesn’t just bounce, but will dodge suddenly and unpredictably off course. A small child or a dog can exhaust themselves with delight chasing one of these around. Following distractions can be brilliant fun. I should know, I’ve followed a few.
When I was a…
‘Your drama is a symptom of not investing enough effort in being clear. Try harder.’
The world needs to be read. It requires our attention and our interpretation, our ability to read the signs and the symptoms.
This goes all the way back. Thousands of generations of reading the tracks and traces of the creatures we hunted, alert to the creatures that hunted us. A fine-tuned literacy that few of us have now.
In the grid of a modern city, the signs are standardised and simplified, they demand nothing like the attention of which we are capable and so they…
‘The world is full of drama. Don’t respond with anger, but with patience.’
There are twelve of us sitting around a table in an unfamiliar building. I’m in my mid-30s. My friend Chris has gathered us for a workshop, part of the later stages of his PhD research on the lives of people involved in social change. There’s a lot of talk about activism. At some point in the morning, I find myself bursting out, excitedly, ‘Is there anyone else here who doesn’t identify as an activist?’
I don’t expect I waited for an answer, rather I must have gone…
‘Beauty and happiness come from being clear and loving.’
Some days, these lines of advice feel like equations. Statements of relationships, like the laws that physicists discover or create. Laws of an inner physics.
A theatre director I worked with described her training at drama school. For the first six months, she said, in all the work she did, the only instruction her teacher gave, over and over, was to trust her judgement.
It made me think of the stories I’ve heard more than once from friends who teach in universities, where a bright student will come to the writing…
Writer, teacher, culturemaker. Co-founder of a school called HOME. Originally from the north-east of England, now living in central Sweden.