Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tuesday is the new Monday

Aahhhrrruuuuhhhh, I don't want to be back at work today. (First evidence of this: Almost every word I've typed so far I've misspelled and have had to retype.)

Last weekend was interesting. Okay, maybe not all weekend, but let's just say that yesterday was interesting. First, my alarm clock didn't realize that it was a holiday, so it went off at 5:45 am. I quickly let it know the error of its ways, and went into a deep sleep, where I had a very vivid dream. I awoke from the dream at only 7:15, and was bummed because even if I got back to sleep, there was no chance of rejoining the dream. Somehow, though, an exception was made, and I was able to go back into that same world right where I left off. Pretty awesome.

I kind of did nothing for the rest of the morning, a little laundry is all, but when the clouds started burning off I got the urge to drive. It didn't matter where - I actually spun a pen on the dining room table to determine my direction. It pointed south, which I immediately approved of, as I had just remembered that I wanted to visit JJ's grave for the second Memorial Day in a row. (Not that I'm going to make a yearly habit of it; last year, there hadn't yet been a grave marker placed, and I wondered what it looked like. I'll probably never go back now, because he's not really there anyway.)

By this time I had stirred the interest of two of my three roomies (the third was on a road trip of his own, down in Burns), so at 2:30, we set out. The body that JJ has finished using is six feet underneath the surface of Redland Pioneer Cemetery. Our route was Hwy 224 to Carver, then Springwater Rd. to Redland Rd, turning left at Lyons Rd, where the cemetery's on the corner. After taking a photo or two of the marker, which has two illustrations by his oldest sister, we backtracked Redland to Springwater, following it to Hwy 211. We then stopped in Colton for (unhealthy snack) food.

About a mile past Colton, we noticed that there was a small buildup of cars and RVs, so we slowed, thinking that it was just holiday traffic. We realized we were wrong when we saw a giant blue fireball erupting above the tree line. Electrical fire! I had never seen one, and was amazed at its furious multicolored beauty. The small line of cars ahead was clearly going nowhere, so we stopped to investigate. Of course, I was aware that there might be someone injured or even dead as a result of this fire, but at the same time, I was mesmerized by the wondrous sight of red, green, purple and pink (!) flames pulsing into the sky. And wow, the buzzing! A driver in front of us said that there had been a car accident where some guy had driven into a power pole, and that nobody had been hurt. We were early enough to get there before any emergency personnel could keep us away, but it's not like we were going to get any closer - if the pole fell any further, it'd snap the tension in the lines and send them flying in all directions. Suddenly, the sci-fi-like flames and the buzzing stopped - the power had been cut - and we turned around and left. Hopefully, the couple of pictures I took will show the strangeness of it all.

After taking a couple of off-highway connecting roads (including one actually named Dhooghie Rd.) we drove into Molalla, or as we put it, Molallapalooza, where we connected with Hwy 213, and turned south. A few miles later we were in Silverton, the only local town I know of that has a yearly weekend festival in honor of a cartoonist. Our destination was Silver Falls State Park, which is about 14 miles south. My, my, it was crowded.

As we searched for a parking spot, we passed by two parked buses, one of which was adorned with the most colorful hippie custom paint job I have ever seen. Bow to stern, not one square inch was left undecorated. There was even an airplane propeller bolted to the grill. If it hadn't been parked under the trees, I would have had enough light to shoot some pictures. We found a spot, walked the South Falls loop path and glanced over at tiny Frenchie Falls, then made our way back to the parking lot. I think we were more intrigued by the hippie bus than the majestic waterfall. We had seen some hippies handing out literature throughout the park, and didn't realize that there were a few left over by the buses. I don't think I knew what to do when a guy invited us on bored. I remember thinking (and I maybe mumbled) that I hoped we wouldn't get a contact high. Turns out I was wrong.

A man by the name of Malachi welcomed us into the bus. Most of the interior was exquisitely wood-paneled, including the dashboard. As expected, the original seats had been removed, replaced with long bench seats that we were told expanded into bunk beds (it wasn't demonstrated, and I couldn't puzzle out how they folded out). That and the other bus were sleeping nine people each, but the capacity was twice that. Our conversation revealed that the hippies were actually a continuation of the 1970's Jesus Movement, which I am too young to remember but I understand was the Christian arm of the main hippie contingent. I could be wrong there.

The folks on the buses are on a U.S. outreach tour, and are based in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where they live in community. Theirs is one of dozens of connected communities in this country and around the world. As you can imagine, they are self-supporting, with their own farms, printing presses, mechanics and other cottage industries that serve their own needs as well as those of their neighbors. Their Brazilian community is an exporter of maté (rhymes with latte), which is a tea-like drink with rejuvenation properties. An important thing to note is that their communities are not isolated, off-the-grid compounds with barbed wire and armed guards. They live in regular towns and cities and have regular neighbors, and they've reached out and loved them so much that when they do come under criticism, it's the neighbors who are the first to defend them.

The people we talked to represented a different kind of hippie than I had imagined. I've seen a few hippies before, but most of my impression comes from the weed-smoking, free-love, victory-sign, interpretive-dancing caricatures I've been presented with all of my life. These folks were different. In some ways, they kind of reminded me of the Amish or Mennonites - maybe it was the ubiquitous beards on the men and extremely long hair and long dresses on the women, like a sort of physical requirement for being in their community. I think on that point alone I would have a hard time becoming one of them - I've grown a beard before, and it just becomes unbearable. I understand the eschewing of fashion, the lilies-of-the-field approach to physical appearance they embody, but it's almost like the beards and simple dresses are a fashion in themselves.

Anyway. The other thing that stood out was just how much they believed in Biblical principles of community. Their model is the early church - The Way - found in the book of Acts. They don't practice "religion" - that is, they're not trapped by Christian ritual and routine for the sake of ritual and routine - but as Malachi explained, "religious" to them means "reconnected with the Father", so in that regard, they embrace the "religious" life. They always meet twice a day, singing and worshipping God, and mostly everyone shares teaching responsibility. People have different strengths and talents which are utilized for the benefit of all.

I know I'm not going to sign up with them and leave my world behind...you know, the beard thing (just kidding...sort of). But I do want to keep in touch with them, and see what I can learn from their very different way of community life.


We then left the Park and drove to Mt. Angel, which we thought might be bigger (because of their famous Mt. Angel Oktoberfest) but really was tiny. We ate at the Mt. Angel Brewery and went home. The end.

2 Talked Back:

At May 31, 2005 at 7:17:00 PM CDT, Blogger Meagan said...

"the lilies-of-the-field approach to physical appearance"

This is such a great phrase. I know you are an artist; are you a writer too?

So this hippies are all a solid Christian outreach, huh? Cool.

That electrical storm that you took pictures of. Will you be able to post photos on this blog? I'm sure they'd be awesome to see.

love meagan


At June 1, 2005 at 10:07:00 AM CDT, Blogger stan said...

I just took my photos in to Costco last night, developed them onto a CD, and checked them out on one of their display computers. (Ain't Costco great?) Once at home, I made an effort not to turn the computer on - sometimes, I need a break!

Tonight, if I don't take another break, I'll run the good pics through Photoshop and post them.

I don't know about "writer" as a descriptor. Maybe "blogger". :)


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