Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Farm, by Mary

I'm tickled pink to be able to say that we are on The Farm. Not just any farm, but THE farm, THE hippy farm, the farm that trains midwives and promotes home births, has its own little medical and birthing center, a small tofu making factory, a book publishing business, an ecovillage training center, a community center, The Farm School, a natural foods store, non-profits doing peace activism and Plenty which does international sustainable development. And, of course, The Farm that has lots of good parties that bring folks together. :)

As a young adult, I had a lurking day dream in my heart that sometimes tempted me to head for these Tennessee hills and join the folks at The Farm. The closest I got (until now) was hiring a midwife from The Farm---Kay Marie---for my son Rene's homebirth in DC back in 1983.  Had I not been in a committed relationship with Rene's dad who, understandably, did not want to come out to 'hippyville', I may well have birthed Rene right here and possibly stayed on all
these years. So you can imagine how being here now, while a dream realized, also sparks thoughts of the road not taken, which leads me to simply being thankful for the road I did indeed take!

While here at The Farm, I wrote this personal letter to the founders of The Farm, Stephen Gaskin, who was the spiritual leader, and his wife Ina May, who is famous for her midwifery work:

December 13, 2009

Dear Stephen and Ina May,

We all know about the ripple effect but perhaps it is not often that we get to see where the ripples go and how they have an impact on life beyond their source. I thought you may like to know that both of your good works in the world had a profound impact on my life, planting seeds for the development of my consciousness and providing hope in my heart for a way to live in connection and harmony.

A nutshell version of my story: In the 70’s, I was a troubled teenager, desperately attempting to find a place in the world as a young woman.  Along comes a mentor who turns me on to the book series
Monday Night Class. I devour them voraciously and later attend Rainbow Family gatherings; live in poverty in the inner city of the nation’s capital; join health food coops, community gardens and the peace movement; explore my spiritual path and respond to the calling of living life in service to humanity.

As a young adult, I conceived my only child and with “Spiritual Midwifery” always close at hand, I was blessed to have Kay Marie as my homebirth midwife! She and Gerald came over the next morning for a loving and kind visit that I will always remember. Nine months after the birth, I expatriated to Europe and upon returning stateside, have lived in or near intentional community and have been educated and trained along my path of service as a doula, social worker, non-profit programs director, therapist, Reiki practitioner, hospice volunteer and Laughter Yoga leader.

Ever since reading “Monday Night Class”, it's been a life-long dream of mine to visit The Farm one day—and here I am so many years later, writing from our home-on-wheels alongside Kathleen’s driveway! I dreamed about you both in the night where I was received with such kindness.  Even if I do not get to meet you this visit, I wanted to be sure to thank you for all you have done to further the
evolution of consciousness on the planet, and for indirectly influencing my life and touching my heart.

Since we are here until Monday, I would love to learn more about your project, Rocinante, Stephen, and offer hearty congratulations to you, Ina May, on your recent Honorary Doctorate!

Much love and gratitude,

Mary Rives

P.S. We are offering free Laughter Yoga session today from 2:00-3:30 at Kathleen’s home and you both are invited! It is great fun and healing, so please come if you can!

You can see form the above picture that we had that Laughter Yoga session. Alas, Stephen and Ina May did not attend, but it was one of the best sessions we've ever had! Folks here sure know how to laugh! May we all laugh on!

My brief time here has been one feast for the senses after another. Over the course of just two days, I got to see a slide show about The Farm, then dance at a festive party with live bluegrass and bands from the Farm and Nashville. What a hoot that was! I also walked the land solo through the woods and bird sanctuaries, biked all around with Keith and Tina, and simply enjoyed being here.

Thanks to our wonderful hostess, Kathleen, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful house concert with "Duologist", a wonderful guitar duo from Nashville and a vocalist named Tree whose voice is smooth as honey and butter. This was just a few miles down the road from The Farm, where I met the nicest people! Southern hospitality is really something special. I cannot remember the last time I was at a social gathering where every person there made sure to meet me and express interest in my life. That warm welcome---which is the cultural norm here---is something that melts my heart and affirms that we are indeed on the right path toward our new home. While it may not be The Farm, at least this time 'round, we are learning more about what we want and don't want in community, the details of which are percolating, and will eventually find a way here to our blog. And we certainly are appreciating the diverse cultures and landscapes that North America offers, good ole' American hippies not withstanding.

Thanks for traveling along with us, and if you decide to visit The Farm feel free to contact us first, if you like, and we'll be happy to share more about our experience our impressions if this place called The Farm.

With love and gratitude,



  1. Wonderful! And I love that photo of your laughter yoga session...heart-warming!

  2. Wow Mary, the Farm sounds pretty sweet. Perhaps the closest fit for you guys yet? I know your search has just begun, but it seems you have a real connection with this place so far. Love Ken

  3. Once again: Greetings to one and all:

    As we’re getting closer and closer to Christmas, many throughout the entire world are preparing, making sure that all of the presents that should have been bought, wrapped, and placed under the tree, has been taken care of, and that not even one present has been forgotten.

    Of course we know that this is just, most especially, the American way. Also the same is happening in different parts of the world as well, as all will know. Which, also is the way that it should be…I personally feel with people doing this, that is, showing love to others, is something that is very pleasing to our Lord, Jesus.

    Something that would please him far better would be…that we don’t leave Him out of our celebrating of his birthday. For this is really what Christmas is all about, you know.
    Then, we all know just how hard it is for people stay in balance. Seems that most people have a very difficult time with this. Seems that most go overboard, with just at times, getting one part of a whole situation centered within their mind (it sometimes being the miner part of the whole) with them then, loosing sight of major part.

    If we have enough people do this, which we often do, not only about Christmas but life in general, we end up with a lop sided world to live within. I know all do not see all of this as I do, for we each have our own way of viewing this world and its situation. Even so, if we look back at past history, or things that have been brought about in days gone by and, still much of it happening within our day and time…by people completely out of balance, having no feeling whatsoever for their fellowman, this should tell us something, even if nothing else does, or regardless of whether anything else does, or ever will.

    Much love,

    Your brother in Christ Jesus, who is both our Lord, and Savior.


  4. This is just GREAT! I am imagining you guys laughing out loud with the posse! I really enjoy sharing this time with you. It's an inspiration. Continue to enjoy what you're doing. Loving you! Sherri