We have been here in Kenya for 10 days… two in Nairobi and the rest at International Peace Initiatives (IPI) in Meru… a mixture of hot sun, amazing non-stop monsoon type evening rain and glorious green fertile hillsides of corn and beans along with churches on every road. There are small plastic bottles of gin being consumed on the street by all ages, women carrying FIRE wood through the fields, children singing in the choir, plastic being burned and solar panels appearing along with wireless.
We spent three days introducing Council to IPI staff and Board, peace-makers, and 10 international sponsors and guests here: Americans, Brits and Aussies who are understandably in love with the children of parents with Aids, housed and cared for here, as well as the work of IPI… youth and women’s empowerment.
Dr. Karambu, the founder, lured Marlow here after she participated in a council training at Findhorn. She is an inspiration to all. Now Marlow, Sam, Win, Siri and I are here, as a BB team.
Tomorrow we begin the earth-bag hut, which we dream in part to be a council hut… a small sanctuary that will be in the center of their one acre of gardened land. We see it as a special place in and of itself as well as a link to the other places of peacemaking in the global network of communities.
Great extremes of cross-culture of course are everywhere to be found… the fact that I co-led the training with Marlow, while my husband was a brilliant participating elder in the room throughout, who did not experience jealousy at my affection and connection with Mr. Marlow, was a topic of conversation.
The other topics within the councils included:
- What is my name and the story and my relationship to it?
- Why did I come to IPI and why this training?
- What is needed within to change and become a peace maker?
- Where are the roots of council in myself and my culture?
- What is self-care, and how do I attend to it as part of maintaining sustainability in the work I do continually here?
And highlights were many:
- The value of listening to self, others and the greater good was repeatedly noted
- The opportunity to share a number of forms and uses of council that may be applicable here … with family, the children, the community and more
- Some of the best teachings as often coming thru the simple sound and movement exercises
- The witness councils of Kenyans and Internationals… witnessing each other regarding a bit of what each learned during the three days
- Men’s and women’s councils, which sat separately and then came together into a spiral… The women were amazingly courageous and expressive, the men reportedly a mixture of beauty and strength, with some convinced by the bible of women’s unchangeable inferiority.
- Some of the Internationals expressing almost unbearable guilt and shame for their people’s colonialism… followed by an apology… which was accepted by a Kenyan woman with great presence, grace and dignity.
In just a few days, as you know can happen with council, we were able to offer and experience a taste of what it is to step fully into one’s personal story, the community story, our cultural story, and step back just a bit to see the bigger story of which we are all a part. The young ones, as always, brought hope in their honesty, authentic heart-full expression and vision for the world to be… both Sam and Siri, who also led some of the councils, partnered with ones from IPI and a few internationals.
And, we have met two or three Kenyans who we definitely would love to bring to help us in the next council-building project at Grandmother Margaret’s on the Cheyenne Rez as well as one young woman I would like to explore coming to the young leaders rite of passage this July.
The weekend was a stretch for all involved, including us leaders… between the understandable shyness, the mixing of strong Christian ways with a Taoist, and the ancient earth-based tradition of council, the gender issues, the translation of language and experiences needed throughout, the tiny room that barely held 21 of us, the need for some to come and go to work and church, family and funerals…
In the end, I can say we are all the better for the experience and it is just the start… Win and I have another week here to join in beginning the hut with ceremony and work, for some days of mentoring and incorporation, as well as Council Introduction to some who missed out. And then Siri, Sam and Marlow will continue for two more months (!!) with building the earth-bag hut and more offerings of council.
So, that’s something of the headlines, as of now, to say thank you to all who have made this journey possible. We have called you in many a time and will continue to do so.
And a blessed Thanks-giving this week… sending gratitude your way, in this great turning time of reconciliation and new beginnings… (Writing this on Nov. 20… though chances are there will be no internet until Win and I reach Nairobi again on the 27th.)
GG and the BB Team in Kenya