A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about community

I believe we all have a higher purpose...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I believe we all have a higher purpose in this life, one that stems from our Divine Origins, and it is greater than any career, any material thing, or anyone for that matter. Over the last few years, a veil has been lifted before my eyes, and I, along with my husband and son, have realized what that purpose is for our family. Over the last two years, we have traveled across the world in search of the Source of all Life, yet ended up finding it only within ourselves. And now, we feel “a fire in our bellies” to embody, to manifest, our dream into our reality.

This comes at a time when our world is increasingly being destroyed on many levels. We have been taught to believe that competition is our nature and we must struggle to survive. Because of this, our planet, our home, is being ravaged in the name of capitalism. All the while, humans are becoming more and more disconnected from each other, from Spirit, and from nature. Yet, there is hope. I know that things can change for the better. More people are waking up to what is happening on our planet. Humans are waking up to their true potential. We are realizing that we are all connected and we are all interdependent. When our planet suffers, so do we. When the animals suffer, so do we. And most of all, when we allow the suffering of other human beings, so do we. So what does this mean for me and for you? I have woken up and am ready to put into action what my purpose is. We are all connected, and I need your help.

To begin, I’d like to introduce myself and my family. My name is Jessica Parks. My husband is Tracy and my son is Elijah. About two years ago, we were your average American family. We had a nice house, two cars, and great jobs. But there was something missing. Our life lacked meaning. Then after the birth of our son, Elijah, in 2012, we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t raise him this way. Something had to change. We had to change. So we decided to sell or give away everything we owned down to one backpack and travel in search for the Source of Life. We traveled to Peru and back, and then across the entire United States. We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for; nothing seemed to satisfy us completely. Don’t get me wrong, we saw a lot of amazing people and communities changing the way they were living to be more sustainable and more in line with their values and with the Earth. And it inspired us, but it wasn’t until we were holed up in an apartment in the winter that we began to find what we were looking for. We begin to look within ourselves. And that’s when we discovered true happiness and the Source of Life! We learned that we could be happy anywhere, and we could create the reality that we dreamed of!

So with that, we are now living in northeast Missouri. This area of the country attracted us, as there are a number of sustainable intentional communities here, like the Possibility Alliance and Dancing Rabbit. My husband, Tracy, is a licensed counselor and currently providing therapy to individuals and families in Kirksville, MO, while I am staying at home with Elijah and growing an abundance of vegetables and fruits at our rental place. All the while we are patiently waiting for Source to provide us with the perfect piece of land and resources for us to begin creating our vision. My family and I are dedicated to creating a sustainable, modern homestead, a model of what life can be like, if we work together and if we work with the Creation all around us. Our vision is threefold. The first component is the homestead itself. We will create a modern homestead incorporating plants, animals, renewable energy, and the synergy of ancient wisdom with new permaculture concepts. We want to be a model of what is possible and how regular families can live more in line with their values and with all of Creation.

The second component is community outreach and education. To do this, we will offer organic, nutritious food to our local community with prices that are less than or equal to conventional food. This would be done with farm to table dinners at the homestead or with a stand or food truck at local markets. Our goal is not to make money; our goal is use good food as a way to invite our community to learn about sustainable farming, “beyond organic” food, and ethical business models.

The final and third component of our vision is a healing or retreat center. This is the most critical piece. Just as my husband and I began healing when we dug our hands in the Earth for the first time, we want others to experience that too. There will be no TV, no internet, and no distractions, just the quiet whisper of nature and Spirit. And a whole lot of farming and fun too. I believe that when we take away all the distractions and devices of mainstream life, most people are left with an emptiness that desires to be filled. That is where Spirit comes in and really fulfills that longing. Our healing center would offer individuals or families a stay on our homestead, so that they could experience what they really need. Maybe that includes milking a cow each day or digging in the dirt. Maybe it includes quiet meditation. Maybe it includes doing some therapy or tapping (EFT) to release past trauma. Maybe it just includes being with others and really connecting to one another over a meal. Whatever the case may be, I know that the experience will heal the individual because that’s what Spirit does. Spirit, God, Source, whatever you call it, it is pure love; it’s where we came from and where we can go back to. Pure love only knows how to restore and heal.

As I come to an end, I want to ask you if this vision resonates with your higher Self, your Spirit? My family and I have an abundance of love, creativity and passion to put this vision into action. And we are looking for someone who feels a similar calling to use their resources to move our world towards a better future. Maybe you can’t come live on the homestead with us, but rather have an abundance of financial resources that could help fund this vision. It takes all kinds and all people to bring our world into a new way of being. We are all connected and we all desperately need each other, if we want to see humanity flourish to its highest potential. So if this rings true to you, please connect with us. We are ready now, and we’d be more than happy to go into many more details about our vision and about ourselves. I am actually writing an entire book about it, detailing our physical journey and my spiritual journey that brought us to this vision. Whether it’s buying land, funding just one piece of the vision, or just offering advice, we are open to accepting any resources that you have in abundance and want to funnel towards creating a new, Spirit-filled, world.

In Gratitude,

Jessica, Tracy and Elijah Parks

Posted by jessp2386 12:51 Archived in USA Tagged food change god community faith farming search vision spirit missouri source homestead sustainable organic abundance connected Comments (0)

New Beginnings

Eugene, OR

So it seems we’ve been getting worse about keeping up on our blog. Life just happens and all of a sudden it’s been four months already! Well, our life has sure has been a roller coaster, to say the least, over the past couple months. In our last blog, we were in Portland. Well, we had a wonderful time there, but felt the call to keep going south to visit one more intentional community called Circle of Children near Eugene, OR. Long story short, anything can sound amazing on a website. Sadly, in reality, Circle of Children was far from amazing….we ended up leaving after two long days, even though we had just trekked across half the country to see this place, ugghhhh. A bit depressing, huh?

So we headed into the nearest town, Eugene, to gather our puzzled thoughts. Why had we felt so drawn to come all this way to end up like this? Only God knows. We still don’t, that’s for sure. Anyway, since then, we’ve stayed a number of places nearby. First, it was with an elderly couple who invited us into their home after meeting them at a farmers market. Then we work-traded in exchange for an RV spot at a local hostel. All the while, we were visiting other intentional communities around the area. None in particular sparked our interest or had any openings until we visited Heart-Culture Farm Community. Now, it wasn’t glamorous, organized, or particularly sustainable, but it had potential. 33 acres of farm land, with almost none of it being used. All of sudden, ideas of food forests, permaculture gardens, animal-crop rotation systems were dancing through our heads! So we decided to stay. And that’s where we were for the last three months.

Community life definitely isn't easy. The ideals of living in community are confronted with the reality of living in community. We realized even more about ourselves, about living with others, and about what we are really looking for in community. This has been a tremendous learning experience for us, in terms of personal, spiritual, and interpersonal growth. And we’re still learning to let go when it’s necessary and follow the signs that God is giving us.

With that said (and not going into the gory details), we decided to leave that community. We realized it was a learning experience, but definitely not the place for us to live long term. There was a possibility that we were going to get an apartment at another nearby intentional community near here, Lost Valley, but that didn’t work out (and possibly for the best). So we are now living in a 2 bedroom apartment near downtown Eugene. We are really close to parks, the Wiliamette River, and local markets. It's also been great to feel "normal" again, to have a home base. We're definitely not the wandering types. We've enjoyed getting to know the area, attending a local church and becoming part of that community, and trying to meet like-minded people in Eugene. Since here though, we have been on a couple mini-vacations to the Oregon coast and up to Seattle for Jessica's cousin's wedding (we took the train!). Now, it seems a new journey has begun for us, one of rebirth and rebuilding.

So it may seem silly that we left our home and garden in Kansas City to just end up in an apartment in another US city. To many, it seems we have actually back-tracked in our life’s journey; there was a point we were wondering the same thing. However, this journey has provided us with more personal and spiritual growth than we could have ever done had we stayed in Kansas City. So we don’t have our farm yet, or even a garden, but we also know that we’re not done yet. This point in our journey is a stepping stone for something greater. We’re not sure what yet, but we know that something is coming. We will be farming and homesteading in the next few years, we’re just not sure where. Right now, we’re working on centering ourselves and connecting with God and others.

Our living situation aside, here's a little update about each one of us!

Tracy got a job as a counselor at a local non-profit. He's been there for a little over two months now and loves it. He really realized how much he missed counseling and is happy to be back helping people. He is also working on getting his license to do private practice here in Oregon. It's been a change having him away most of the day, but we're getting used to it. Elijah usually starts talking about dada an hour or so before he comes home from work. He is also able to ride his bike to work, now that our apartment is only 1.5 miles away!

Jessica is adjusting to being at home with Elijah all day by herself. It's definitely a task to chase a toddler around all day! And as the weather gets colder (we just had our first snow actually!), she's having to get even more creative to keep Elijah busy. We have been able to meet some new friends here in Eugene who have children, so that's been nice for Elijah and mama. Jessica has also been busy in the kitchen. She is soooo happy to have a kitchen that functions (that was one of the problems at Heart-Culture), and she has been baking breads, making ice cream, and making other simply things from scratch!

And finally Elijah, well he mainly poses for pictures all day, if you can't tell already ;) He has changed so much in just the last few months. He is doing more talking. He likes to try and repeat what we say. He also says most words that start with "B" like ball, balloon, baboon, bubble, etc. He actually hasn't gotten any more teeth, which is weird, but he is eating a lot of food now. He eats pretty much everything, but meat and cheese (with the exception of bacon and really expensive cheese, haha). Also, he is out of diapers!! You heard it, by about 17 months old (because we did EC), we stopped putting him in diapers because he is finally telling us when he needs to go potty! It's been pretty awesome! He is also loving playing instruments. He plays the guitar, the harmonica, the drums, the piano, etc. He also loves animals; one of the hardest things to leave at Heart-Culture were our chickens. We raised them for 8 weeks from day-old chicks and Elijah would give them kisses. It was super cute! Hopefully, someday soon, we will have some farm land and chickens again.

Until then, I will keep updating you all on our adventures in Eugene!

Posted by jessp2386 22:23 Archived in USA Tagged community new_beginnings changes Comments (2)

How Can We Glorify God?

How can we glorify God? This question was raised as part of a sermon this past Sunday at a local church we attended. The pastor mentioned it in a discussion about suffering and why suffering happens in our lives. Obviously life isn’t fair. We all know that fact; however, the point he made was that it’s how we look at situations that matter. Rather than asking why did this happen to me? Ask how can I use this to glorify God? For us (and I’m guessing most people), it’s been easier to see the negative in what we’re doing. Life isn’t that simple when your living out of your car, not able to be around family and friends, trying to find a new home, and raising a sweet, but very active (and accident-prone) 9 month old toddling baby. But our goal here is not to complain about what we don’t have or what we wish would happen. Anyone can do that. We’re on this journey to find God and find the Source of Life, so a great question really is: how can we glorify God along this journey?

We can glorify God by living the way that God intended for humans to live, which we believe is with one another, with the land, and with love. Jessica’s been reading a great book called “Return to Creation” written by a Native American man, Medicine Story. He explains beautifully how people ought (and probably really desire) to be living like, and that involves community, cooperation, and love. If you ever have the chance to read any of his books (see his website here!), we’d highly suggest doing so, as they are very inspiring and uplifting to the possibilities and potential of human beings.

Anyway, before we left many people told us how brave we were to do this because they wished they could do the same, but felt stuck in one way or another in their current situation in life. Hopefully by setting out on this journey we can set an example for others to follow, wherever their path should lead them, as not everyone is meant to do the same thing. We want to show others that it is possible to find your bliss and live it. That’s really what everyone is striving for, isn’t it? To find love and happiness, and live it? Every choice we make in life is really about looking for love, happiness, and contentment; we all desire those things. Of course, sometimes we go about that in very wrong ways, like trying to make more money (because we all know that makes people happy) or lashing out at someone who we felt wronged us (that really just makes us angry too).

For our little family, we believe our bliss can be found living for God and with God, as in nature, with the Earth, and with others in community. We believe that’s how humans were made to live. There isn’t the saying “it takes a village” for no reason. We are social beings, yet this culture we live in now is trying to separate and segment our lives so that we feel isolated and dependent. For example, when Jessica was working with refugees from other countries, they could see so clearly through our culture and would make comments like “Where are all the people?” when referring all the houses and seemingly empty neighborhoods, or “We need a TV because in my country we had community, but here the people use their TV as their community.” One family from Burma told Jessica that they cried for a month straight when they arrived in America because they felt so alone here. But we can change that. We, as humans, are changing, evolving. Many are realizing that the “American dream” is not a dream; it’s actually a nightmare that just puts people in more debt and leaves a longing for something more. Many are turning to a simpler way of life for themselves and their children. Just a year ago, when we were looking at intentional communities in the US, there were very few waitlists to join these communities. Now as we search, many have waitlists, especially for families.

Clearly more and more people want to raise their children in a different world. They want a world that nurtures the family, the individual and the earth, where children are able to learn about and experience real life, not watch “reality” on TV. They desire a world that doesn’t include a commercialized, “one size fits all” education for their children. They long for a simple, yet profound world that based on love and cooperation, not fear and competition. The Hare Krishnas’ had a philosophy of “simple living, high thinking.” They believed that we should spend our days simply praising God and his Creation. We can do this in many ways, like serving others, serving the land, and coming together in love. (And by the way, no we didn’t decide to become Hare Krishna. For numerous reasons, it just wasn’t the religion/way of life for us. But nevertheless, they were some wonderful and amazing people to be around.)

So we apologize if we sound negative sometimes about the culture we live in here in America, but we just believe so firmly in our hearts that this is not the answer for us, or for anyone. This culture is consuming, commercialized, materialistic, competitive, and fearful. It leads too many people to a life of debt, destruction, and longing for more. If you can’t see that, please look objectively and wake up to the realization around you. Please stop making up excuses in your head to justify it; listen to your heart. Know that you’re not too old to change, it’s not too late, you’re not too far in debt, you’re not too entrenched in it, you’re not stuck; there is always another option. There is always hope for a better life for all of us. We live in a world of abundance and love. Just look at nature, there’s always enough for the animals and plants; it’s the same for us, we just have to have faith, not fear, in God and in the abundance all around us.

So with that said, we are heading to our actual first farm community in a week from now. We are so thankful for our friends, the Hare Krishnas and Paul and Rebecca in Florida, as we hung around there because of weather and the community didn’t have any accommodations for us until April 1st. We’ll be heading three hours north of here to Koinonia, a Christian intentional living community, located in central Georgia. It will be nice to be around other families, as Elijah is getting so much more social, and loves being around other children. He can walk now too! (not very well yet, lots of bumps on the head) We’ll let you all know how it goes and whether humans can actually live together. We are very excited and hopeful!

Posted by jessp2386 17:41 Archived in USA Tagged children nature love community abundance Comments (1)

Don't Waste Your Hate....

....Rather Gather and Create.

We wanted to start this entry off with some partial lyrics from the song, “Manifesto” by Nahko and Medicine for the People. I highly, highly recommend listening to this song.

You can do so at this link:Manifesto
If that link doesn't work, copy and paste this into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsP2hPVOuZ8

“I see people stressin’ over space and possessions,
Out of fear and a need for visual aids of our abundance.
Give me examples or somethin’ tangible,
Something I can get my hands on and find real meaning.

Where is the medicine?
Well I’ve been searching,
And I suppose each will find their own kind.
Well everything’s at stake,
It makes it hard to concentrate.
And there are men who see a war and see a paycheck,
Such different programming,
To live so fearfully,
Terror this and terror that, terrible reality.
There is no medicine on the television,
So turn it off and turn yourself around.

And let’s just face it,
The world’s fucking racist.
Even the most peaceful of us gets caught in the trend.
To live cohesively is almost a fantasy,
And we oughtta know it starts with humbling our egos.
What is the medicine for cultural wounding?
Has its moments, has its melodies, has its time.

Well I was listenin’ to the outgoing seasons,
About climate change and some other reasons.
When the sky opened like I’ve been hopin’
And there came horses by the thousands,
And there was thunder on their tongues,
And lightening on their minds,
And they were singing this old melody from some other time.

They sang, Don’t waste your hate, rather gather and create.
Be of service, be a sensible person,
Use your words, and don’t be nervous.
You can do this, you’ve got purpose,
Find your medicine and use it

So we’ve been on this journey to find our medicine, our source, our provider…God. He surrounds us, yet he is so hard to really grasp in today’s world. When we got back to the US we landed in Tampa, FL, and we were immediately overwhelmed with distracted and stressed out Americans rushing around the airport. After 24 hours of traveling, exhausted and hungry, it was a whirlwind to say the least. Luckily, we have an amazing baby, Elijah. He somehow didn’t even cry or complain the entire time, and stayed up way past his bedtime (usually 7 PM) to almost 1 AM when we boarded our last plane to the US from Lima.

Before we really get into the essence of all this, we want to say that this is in no way meant to offend anyone who is an American. We actually love Americans! We came back to America because we like Americans; however, don’t get that confused with America as a country or a whole though. We believe that this system created in America (and other Western nations) was purposefully set up to keep people distracted, brainwashed, separated, dumb-downed, and immature (spiritually, developmentally, etc). Luckily, humans are amazing and resilient, and despite so many very well thought out attempts to keep us sub-par, many of us have still managed to evolve and awaken to realize our full potential as human beings on this planet. Right now, we, as in Tracy and Jessica, are simply trying to explain our perceptions and experiences along this journey in hopes of opening up someone’s eyes and possibly awaken more Americans to what we believe is the real nature of the toxic system that we are living in. And of course, how we can rise above it and live peacefully and happily together.

So with all that said, it was in Tampa that we were bombarded with a reverse culture shock coming back into the US. This poisonous culture was even more apparent to us now that we had been out of it for three months. Nearly everyone we came into contact with was angry, depressed, stressed, or annoyed. Road rage rules the streets and everybody else is driving horribly (get the sarcasm?). It’s a culture based on money, fear, and control, and that’s the bottom line. It’s not about people or relationships or love. It’s definitely not about God. And if you don’t like the rules, you better shut up or get out. The saddest part of it all is that most people don’t even realize they’re in it, that they’re being duped and controlled, and that they can break free.

Long story short, it immediately starting pulling at our souls.

Originally, we thought we were going to have a happy-go-lucky mini vacation. Unfortunately that’s not in God’s plan for us. So off we went, in our newly bought minivan, to check out some off the grid intentional living communities, and hopefully find some like-minded folks living with nature and with God. Our first stop would be an eco-village just outside Gainesville, FL called Gaia Grove. They were also having an Intentional Communities Conference that weekend we were there, so we signed up for that too. We were pretty excited!

As we drove up, it looked promising. We were finally going to be staying in nature, as it was in a very rural forested area, and hopefully we’d be talking community very soon! We set up camp and met Mark and Joanna, the two people that run the place. Mark basically does most of the construction that’s on site, while Joanna owns the place. We were a little surprised to find out that no one else lived there, permanently or temporarily. As Joanna began to show us around the 92 acre property, we started to see what this place really was. There was no community. It was essentially just an empty piece of land that she owned and wanted people to invest their money in it. She wasn’t the least bit interested in actually forming community, or a conversation for that matter; she cut us off every time we tried to say something just so she could try and sell us the property or some business idea she had for it. It was pretty depressing. But we were hopeful for the conference and to just relax and be in nature.

We were wrong again. The conference was awful; Joanna had nothing planned at all. We did meet some really awesome people though, like Ken, Paul, and Rebecca, and learned a little firsthand how difficult it is to even have community and conversation for two days with differing opinions and ideas. In America, we haven’t been taught to live with one another. We’re taught the opposite, how to be an individual, how to take care of ourselves, but what about us as a whole? Where will this individualistic system lead us? It can’t go on forever because we actually do need each other; we can’t be self-sufficient on our own. So the million dollar question is: can Americans really have community and live successfully with one another? One couple at the conference did have hope for humanity, Paul and Rebecca. They were such a wonderful and loving couple living and farming near Tallahassee. If it weren’t for them, the first day of the conference would have been even worse. They brought forth a method for discussion called “circle way” which really helped the discussion progress that day. We hope we’ll be seeing them again soon as we make our way north!

So after the conference came to a dwindling end, and we had been rained on for four days in our leaky tent, we were feeling pretty down and lost. We hadn’t heard back from the next farm community we wanted to visit. We were feeling frustrated with this plan, wondering if we were ever going to make it to an actual functioning community. We felt very alone at the moment, without friends, family or community. We weren’t sure what we were doing wrong, but we didn’t feel connected with God at all. Just at that moment, Jessica had a random thought to go by this Hare Krishna temple we had seen on the way to Gaia Grove; we didn’t have anything else to do, so why not? Maybe there would be some wise spiritual leader willing to give us some insight into our plan.

Immediately upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by a man that informed us there was an impeding community feast, which happens every week at that time, and soon there would be a couple hundred people there. He then introduced us to a woman Caitanya, who seemed to have all the right answers for us at that moment, and could help us along our path, if only we would try chanting the name of the Lord, Krishna (God in Sanskrit), using their maha-mantra? We thought it couldn’t hurt to chant God’s name, so we’d give it a try. Meanwhile, about a hundred or more people showed up for the weekly feast; we were so happy to be around so many wonderful and welcoming people! It was exactly what we needed!

The Hare Krishnas believe that there are two basic principles for knowing and loving God and that’s to chant God’s name and to do service; their saying is "live simply, think highly." That's exactly what we've been trying to do; live simply with nature and others, and get closer to God. So we volunteered for the week to do service with them as they serve out lunch to nearly 1000 people each day, and we started chanting God’s name using the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In Sanskrit, it basically means Oh Lord, please engage me in your service. If you do this, you will be able to reach Krishna Consciousness (or God Consciousness), which is the ultimate goal of Hare Krishna, the original state of our souls, to be at one with God.

So we never can predict where God will lead us next. We’re still not sure what our next step will be, but we’re at least for now, enjoying God’s plan for us (and next time, we’ll have a little more faith that God does know what he’s doing, we’re just a little impatient sometimes). We’re reminded of the song, “Manifesto,” again when they sing:

“Don’t waste your hate, rather gather and create.
Be of service, be a sensible person,
Use your words, and don’t be nervous.
You can do this, you’ve got purpose,
Find your medicine and use it.”

Who knows, maybe we have found our medicine with the Hare Krishnas? We’re at least going to use this opportunity to get closer to God and to be able to serve Him, as we discover the right path for us.

Here's some cute pictures of Elijah for now!

Posted by jessp2386 21:59 Archived in USA Tagged god community hare_krishna faith spirituality find_your_medicine Comments (1)

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