Birthday Memory 2019

by Terry Sterrenberg

Some weeks ago I said to Laurie that I realized that In spite of the all the good things, coming to New York and Ganas has been like going to an alien planet. The last couple of years have been particularly difficult. Difficult times always have always nourished inner growth for me.

I was going to begin by apologizing for being relatively silent over the last few years. For some unknown reason I felt I needed to protect myself. Not unusual for me. But this case had unique a feature. I have been in mourning. (mothers death, retirement, new life style, Donald Trump)

When Laurie and I came to New York 4 and a half years ago I unknowingly left behind an important piece of my life and have been struggling . I have been puzzled about this ever since I came to Ganas because I have started a new life several times. I don’t think the newness has ever been this great.

The nuggets that started my awareness of all this in myself manifested when we went back to Salem Oregon last summer. I have a history of writing a journal ever since I was in high school. Most of those journals have been lost in the process of moving over the years. In 1969 I started writing poetry and keeping a journal and when we moved to New York I thought this writing had been lost, but low and behold I found a folder with all my poems. These writings reveal a part of myself I thought I had lost since coming to Ganas. They express my internal struggle with love and death in relationship and the turning points in my life. I have never considered them great poetry but they express significant points in my life and growth as well as ongoing issues I deal with.

Some of you know that I was a minister for ten years. My church experience was not about fundamentalism or simplistic answers to life. But rather it was all about the difficulties and contradictions of living love in the world. Of being that which I was striving to create. To be love in the world as a change agent is always a huge challenge for me, seemed impossible and a recipe for failure.

Some time ago I backed off of that belief, saying to myself that it is a childish belief, life is never as simple as just loving everyone. I’ve never given up love. I just learned that it is not simple. Love as energy of change means taking a stand. As an adult this grounding message of love turned me toward social action and social responsibility. I became a social cynic. I saw in the world that adults for the most part live by different rules than children – loving, sharing, cooperating, are qualities we ask of children but are suspicious of as adults.. In a Trump world love seems to be a ridiculous and absent notion. It seems that problem solving ultimately is not about loving and talking it out but rather who has the most power, strength and intimidation.

Then when I came to Ganas the alien world that I stepped into seemed to require different skills than was available to me. Along with everything else the Trump election brought up all my insecurities. Taking any kind of stand seemed impossible. And what stand should I take? I shut myself down. A familiar tactic. I felt over whelmed, vulnerable, hypocritical and incompetent to deal with the situation. The notion that love can change the world. That love is the energy of the divine in the world became dormant for me. What does that actually mean and and how does it fit in todays world.

Well, Ganas and Fremont Community Village became the answer to that question. For me the vision of Fremont Community Village is partly an outcome of this struggle to live love in the world. It is also an attempt to manifest what we have learned in our travels and research for our movie which is also about this.