It is pleasing beyond words when the neighbors come by to introduce their new children to the farm and the donkeys, and to record these images – the donkeys are astonishingly gentle with children and understand the notion of capturing images. They pose, all of them. My neighbors always apologize for disturbing us, and have no notion of what a gift their visits are. How wonderful to own a place people want to show their children, and which introduces them to the world of animals and nature. I mean for every place I live to be such a place.
On her blog this morning, Maria wrote about something that touched my heart. She has a gift for that. Writing about the sale of Bedlam Farm, she wrote that she had a dream in which a visitor called it a "sacred creative space." I was up half the night thinking of that image. I believe the farm is a magical place. It has been many things for many people in its 150 plus years, but in its newest incarnation, it has, in fact, become a sacred and creative space. Stories seem to come out of the ground, the mist, the light. Creativity is the soul connection Maria and I share, the one that brought us together and keeps us so close. The day I moved here in 2003, I began writing "The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm," the first chapter of my own Hero's Journey and a chronicle of my life on the farm with Rose. I just kept writing, really. More books – "Soul Of A Dog," "Dog Days," "Rose In A Storm," "Dancing Dogs," my first children's books.
The farm generated material for this blog, in 2003. Restoring the farm led to my meeting Maria. It opened me up to new experience – therapy, friendship, love, a spiritual life. Experience with animals of different kinds – dogs, donkeys, cows and steers, chickens and roosters, barn cats. With blizzards and ice storms and frostbite, with fences and wells, barns and foundations, coyotes and foxes, hawks and raccoons. The farm led me to Izzy, and my work in hospice. To Simon. It drew me into the mystical, trouble and beautiful world of rural life – farms, farmers, county fairs, the real struggles of real people. In earnest, I committed myself to a spiritual life.
I experienced struggle and change and joy here, many kinds. My first marriage ended here. I cried rivers here, up in my room and trembled in fear. I gave rebirth to my life here. The farm inspired a movie, "A Dog Year," and my first photo was a shot of the Big Barn through the living room window.
So I can bear witness to this creative space, this magical place and I saw it transform Maria. Shut down for years as an artist, she came to the Studio Barn and is now barely able to stop working with her boxes and piles of discarded fabric, generating one beautiful work after another – potholders, quilts, streaming pillows, the words, colors and images and ideas testifying to the power of the creative spark, the sacred creative space. The farm always worked its magic, opening up those of us blessed to live here.
For us, and for many of the people who come along on this trip with us I hope, there is the realization that life is a series of creative spaces, magical spaces, sacred spaces. No life is perfect, and the creative spark can be a complex and bittersweet thing, as is life itself. But it is in us now, unleashed in all of its wonder and glory, to the end. That is my purpose, my work. I see that the creative spark is infectious, and I see from these miraculous messages coming through the ether that the lights come on in others, one by one, sparking and twinkling and shining, as they did for me. What could be more magical than that? Lights everywhere, calling us and the stories inside of us to life. Can't wait for the New Bedlam Farm. I will dedicate it to the first one, I think.
"So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world,
and live your life."
– Mary Oliver