I sat down to write an overdue blog post this morning; it’s been over two weeks since the last one. I started writing….

Dear followers, With considerable regret, I have decided to take a break from blogging for a while. This will be my last post for at least three months. The reason is twofold….  

In that moment, I got an email from my very good friend and occasional work colleague, Dorota with an attachment – a blog post that she had written in the 2 or 3 days since I asked her in passing whether she’d be interested in being a guest blogger.  I was ever so grateful that she had so quickly and so willingly accepted my invitation, and that as a result, I don’t have to pull the plug just yet. And I was amazed yet again at how, in Findhorn, events so often seem to unfold ‘in perfect timing’ (one of our ‘mantras’ and the title of co-founder, Peter Caddy’s, autobiography).

So here it is folks – a week in the life of another Findhorn community member…

************************************************

Machines, Money and Miracles, by Dorota Owen

Graham writes a blog about life within the Findhorn Foundation, but here is a slightly different perspective – community life outside the Findhorn Foundation, in what is affectionately known as the wider community. This network of members lives in the surrounding towns and villages, are integrated with mainstream life yet carry the spiritual and cultural values of the Foundation.  We might work in all manner of professions and yet still support the Foundation in diverse volunteer roles. For example, I am an elected councilor of the community and a director of various boards, but I earn my living as a substitute teacher in local schools – sometimes a different one each day. I also teach part-time at the Drumduan School currently located in the Moray Art Centre in the Park, a bold experiment in revitalizing education.

Recently, my trusty, solid, old AEG     laundry machine broke down, so for a while I was doing the washing at the communal laundry at the Park. Although it was less convenient, this turned out to be a joy as I often met community members on my way back and forth and stopped to chat and joke. Walking down the runway to collect clothes from the drier, I ran into Graham Melzer and spontaneously offered to help out with the GEN conference in July.  Seemingly in response – who knows? –  Graham invited me to write a guest blog.  I decided to write about my typically remarkable week.

It began rather auspiciously with an almost total solar eclipse. I’d been called to teach in Grantown Grammar. Unfortunately, a thick grey lid obscured the sky, disappointing everyone – especially Claire, the head teacher , who wailed, “I’m so depressed!” having prepared the entire school with lists of instructions and specially purchased sunvisors all the way from America .  In this damp gloom, just a few minutes after the bell rang, a pupil yelled, ‘The sun’s coming out!’ and sure enough, a sliver of blue sky emerged and soon spread into a large patch as big as the rugby field we stood on. Everyone looked up as one body and gasped with delight as this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon transfixed us, teachers and pupils alike, with its spooky light change. It felt like a miracle.

eclipse

That could have been exciting enough for an unexpected day in Grantown, but even more significant was my discovery at lunchtime that the local appliance shop had an AEG sign in the window. Could they fix my laundry machine? No they couldn’t, they said, but they called a repair firm and left a message which I promised to confirm later. I never did, however, because I was suddenly seduced by the dazzling beauty of the machines for sale. I slid my hands lovingly across their pristine white surfaces, lured by the promise of creatively titled washing cycles and 5 year guarantees all for zero percent interest over 12 months… plus! £120 cash back!  Another miracle! Here was the cash I needed for my MOT the next day – naturally I signed on the dotted line with XXXX Finance.

machine old car

The following day, I drove my trusty, solid, old car to Elgin for its MOT and to while away the time I meandered around the shops. It was surprising for me, a rare visitor to Elgin, to see so many shops empty; I was told this was the economic effect of the local airbase closing down. Now Elgin has fewer people with a lower average income. One shop caught my attention as it was full of washing machines and other appliances, but not the glamorous ones I’d seen before – these were unknown names at apparently low prices.  ‘Only £6 a week!’ placards were abundant.  Then I looked at the terms and interest. 48 months? At 39.4APR%?  The final sums were astronomical, in the thousands. For a washer? It hardly seemed ethical. No wonder usury was a sin. I could imagine cash-strapped families paying out forever on these terms.

A text arrived to say my car had failed the MOT.  Knowing the fall-out could take some time I texted a friend who just happened to be in town and she drove me to the Park in her sleek Smart car. We shared a coffee and a pastry together in the Blue Angel café, drinking in sunshine and birdsong. The Park is such a little piece of heaven sometimes. I wandered off to teach my afternoon class at Drumduan and then hitched a lift home with Anna, who I hadn’t seen in years. She came in for tea and we chatted for hours and caught up with news. She told me she found teaching in mainstream schools is really stressful now because of staff shortages and I was surprised I have not been inundated with job offers. On the other hand, I can’t complain as I have travelled so much this year on Findhorn-related projects – Hawaii, Vancouver, Greece, Germany, Holland, Poland, Croatia, The Gambia, Senegal, Australia and am recently back from South Africa. This last trip was as a facilitator of the new Miracle Choice Game, which had led to many remarkable experiences. I told this to Anna, who exclaimed, “I would love to play! I think I really need a miracle right now!”  So we arranged to play the next day and in that moment the phone rang with another job offer from Grantown for the next day: I was thrilled.

But the next day, I was stricken by a mystery bug and laid low. How disappointing.  Yet it turned out to be a very useful day as all manner of people called and dropped by. And I was able to honour my promise to finish my last class at Drumduan before Easter, even though I felt dreadful and could hardly lift myself out of my friend’s Smart car. Sunny days are not meant to be spent indoors and it was the last lesson of the day, so the class asked if we could take our chairs on to the grass and sit in a circle as we often do. I agreed and in that moment was struck accidentally on my forehead as I bent to take my own chair. I groaned.

“Are you hungover?” a student enquired, solicitously. “No, I’m really ill,” I explained, “I’m only here because you’re such a lovely class and it’s your last day before the holidays!”  Later on, a large lump grew in the middle of my forehead with a slightly zigzag scar, like lightning.

Another hitch home and I discovered a note with an invoice on the dresser. The washing machine repair man had come after all – and repaired the washer! Drat. Now there was no point in getting the new one, no matter how tempting! Momentarily, I grieved over the loss of the clean, white dream machine… but I also told myself to get over it as this was a sensible and practical result – and cancelled the finance agreement with XXXX Finance. Little did I know how lucky I was.

Still, I felt pretty ill and was perhaps a little vulnerable when the phone rang with an offer from the ‘salvage and scrap your old windows’ scheme to replace my ancient draughty ones at an ‘affordable price.’ I agreed to have a quote then fell into a deep sleep till the next day.

On the last day of my remarkable week, everything described above began to dovetail together. I had been puzzled by this series of seemingly random events: broken down machines that had served me so well for so long; irresistibly tempting finance packages; serendipitous meetings through sharing laundry and car drives with friends; the unexpected chance to play the Miracle Choice Game. What did it all mean?

Anna arrived as arranged, with another unexpected visitor, and we played the Miracle Choice Game together with no expectations but with clearly expressed intentions. After an hour or so of playing and sharing our experiences and insights, we each expressed our delight at the miracles we had experienced.  We also felt a sense of peace descend on us, and I speak for myself when I add that it felt as though we were held in a very graceful, spiritual space, but I know from what the others said that this was true for all three of us.  My home felt filled with this fragrant, tangible sense of the sacred.

Into that blessed space rang the phone. “This is the ‘salvage and scrap your windows’ scheme, just to let you know we’ve received confirmation that you are eligible for this scheme and we can send someone to arrange a quote.”

“That’s fine, thank you,” I replied.

Within minutes another call, this time from a woman who said she was speaking from a central office somewhere, “We have a representative in your area and he can come round tonight.” It was already late, and I was tired, but why not? A few more calls ensued to check on various details.

Finally, a call to announce the name of the representative would arrive shortly. I began to feel suspicious.  “Hold on a minute,” I said. “ Why have I received so many calls in the last half hour? I feel harassed!”

“Not to worry, Madam, we only ask for an hour of your time.”

“An hour? You must be joking. Who are you and why are you calling me?”

“We are Weather Windows,” replied the man.

Finally the penny dropped. A double-glazing sales scam! I suddenly understood everything and realised I was well on the way to being duped. I remembered the last time I’d had a similar experience ten years ago when a company had sent a salesman who was so pushy and determined to have me sign an agreement that he had simply refused to leave my house and I had felt forced to call the police.

This time I had an entirely different strategy: “I can’t give an hour of my time. I have a spiritual meditation group sitting here and they are all looking at me with amazement because of all these phone calls disturbing our peace tonight. Please cancel the visit.”

He apologized and hung up.

I wonder if there can have been a more effective end to his pursuit? Even now, I laugh at the idea that I might mischievously lure in a hardened double-glazing salesman and have him sit in silent meditation for an hour or so with a thoroughly chilled-out Miracle Choice group.  That would indeed be ‘an hour or so of my time’.

Watch out, Weather Windows!

Later on that night, I googled the name of the company and discovered just how lucky I’d been; there were many others who had not been so. I read reams of complaints from vulnerable people who had succumbed to psychological pressures from the agents, and many other hair-raising stories. For example, there was an elderly widow who’d been duped into paying tens of thousands of pounds for simply signing up to buy a door over a long period at that high rate of interest.

One name stood out: it was XXXX Finance that offered the lengthy 34.9% loans over many years on behalf of Weather Windows. I was amazed. Two lucky escapes in one week. No new washing machine, and no new windows!

Looking back on this week, I reflect on what I have learned. First is my realization of how lucky I am to live in this Community and receive the kindness and support of its members. It is so much more fun to simply share what you have with your friends – your machines, your cars and coffees and cakes, your insights, jokes and games. Secondly, it is so reassuring to live in a community in which you know you can trust what people offer you without wanting to take.

Finally, I have learned to resist the allure of the shiny and new. We can repair our machines and our homes – can repair, reuse and recycle – and the familiar can support us with as much efficiency, and sometimes with more charm and reliability, than the brand new item. As an older woman, I take solace in the fact that there may be wrinkles on my face and my hair is turning white but that doesn’t mean I stop singing or dancing or loving my life and being loved.

My car has a long, loving  and gentle repair in process from a community member before it will pass its MOT, but  in the meantime one of the shared cars from the car pool came my way as we are going all-electric. So I took possession of a little silver bubble car for a very affordable price. As I looked in the driver’s mirror, I was struck by the lightning scar on my forehead and winked at my reflection. With my bleached blonde hair, I looked for a split second like a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Harry Potter.

dorota new car

Now, that IS a miracle!

Advertisements