Falling passionately in love with life

by | Autumn 2024, Conscious Living, Print Articles, Thought Leaders

We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

My very earliest memories are of love. Of loving everything around me. Everything that grows, moves, breathes. Trees, animals, birds – and the bugs that would be clutched too tightly in my four-year-old hand when I drifted off to sleep, awaking to tears when I unclenched my grip to reveal the lifeless bodies of my little friends.

Being surrounded by love was a given in my very young world. My devoted parents opened my eyes to a benign world filled with awe, wonder, beauty and miracles.

How fortunate to have role models like these in my formative years. What a gift to step forward excitedly, knowing that Mum, Dad and the world at large had my back, gently coaxing, supporting, encouraging me to explore and discover.

Disappointment and disillusionment only seeped in later.

The journey has taught me that possessions, positions and outer status are nice to have but matter little in the grand scheme of things. More important is striving to be kinder, more loving and of service. To be a presence of love.

I write this today on the anniversary of the passing of Herman Potgieter, one of the world’s great aviation photographers who became a best friend and was intended to become a business partner as well.

All that ended in a heartbeat. Herman and eight others died instantly when the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft they were travelling in, slammed into Kenya’s Ngong Hills of Out of Africa fame.

I was scheduled to have been on that fatal flight but had had to cancel at the very last moment.

Herman and I had several creative collaborations planned, but it was the loss of his special friendship and that wicked and irrepressible sense of humour that was so devastating. This wasn’t part of my plan. But as John Lennon famously observed: “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”

For a time, I was paralysed by shock and grief. It felt like something important in me had also died in that wreckage, obliterating my childlike sense of awe, wonder and gratitude. I lost my mojo.

And then there was a recurring nightmare I didn’t know what to do with. I was trapped in a room, the wind howling through the door and windows. “You must perform a ritual,” an indigenous elder counselled. “You must let go of what happened and move on with your life.”

I embarked on a meandering road trip of several weeks from Johannesburg to Nairobi and had planned to trek to the actual crash site and perform a ritual. In the end that seemed unnecessary. Early one morning while gazing questioningly at the distant Ngong Hills I felt a huge energy shift and a sense of peace settled over me. My mojo was back. I’d fallen in love with life again.

Since then, I’ve probably adventured enough for both of us, also discovering some of the things that really matter to me. Some of what makes me truly happy and fulfilled.

Knowing that I never walk alone is pivotal, of course, and being part of a loving and caring community committed to service is one way of experiencing that joyful connection and sense of purpose.

As sportsman and philanthropist Muhammad Ali noted: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

It took an 11-day Vision Quest and solo time fasting in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains of South Africa for the next meaningful nudge along my soul path. “You need to go to Findhorn where your next steps will be revealed,” an inner voice urged. Where did that come from?

Signing up for a month-long immersion within the pioneering Findhorn community and Ecovillage in northern Scotland radically changed the trajectory of my life. For ever.

Huge initial misgivings around standing in circles holding hands with a bunch of strangers, soon gave way to a new way of seeing and being. My heart cracked wide open and much of a high-pressure lifetime of striving seemed somehow less important. Hardly a priority any more.

Findhorn elder and mentor Craig Gibsone once looked me in the eye and insisted knowingly: “If it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable.” That lesson stays with me. As do the three cornerstones of my adopted spiritual community: Being still and going within to access guidance, cocreating with the intelligence of nature and embracing work or service as love in action.

Cheesy as it sounds, I now try to infuse whatever I do with love, no matter how mundane the task. It’s that old familiar idea of loving the ones you’re with, where you’re at and what you’re doing, even when it sometimes makes your blood boil. I guess, we’re human, not saints! It’s a work in progress.

Along with the regular ritual of meditation, one of Findhorn’s great gifts for me has been what’s known as attunement. It’s something you encounter every day at the start of almost any process. Participants stop what they’d doing, circle up and take a sacred pause. Usually someone will lead with a few words inviting all to close their eyes, or soften their gaze and silently attune to the hearts in the circle, the wisdom and divinity within the group, the task at hand, or even just the beauty and sanctity of the moment. It’s a chance to let go and reset.

At one time I imagined I might walk the world visiting countless intentional and eco-inspired communities. I did some research and realised that, by following my intuition, I was exactly where I needed to be and had arrived in perfect timing.

The community in The Park at Findhorn ticks most of my boxes. It is remarkably full featured, offering a dazzling array of choices, including music, dance, theatre and local and international gatherings in the Universal Hall. These have included conferences like the New Story Summit, We Do Not Die and Climate Change and Consciousness.

I’m also proud that ‘my’ community has been such a bold pioneer. Toilet and grey water is cleaned by a natural process in The Living Machine, which was the first of its kind in Europe. When much of Scotland was celebrating the abundance of North Sea Oil, Findhorn introduced a wind turbine named Moya, which means wind or spirit in Sesotho. And it was here that the Game of Transformation was invented to simulate life in a spiritual community, with all its inspirations and challenges. The deck of Angel cards was the world’s first and one of the tools of the game. If you’d like to sample an Angel card, click on the link at the end of this text.

Findhorn has been described as an experiment, a laboratory for change, a hothouse for spirituality, or more simply as a quest to find ways of living together that are kinder to each other, the Earth and all lifeforms. It’s inspiring and often messy and uncomfortable.

Covid has been both a crisis and sacred pause, inviting questioning and deep introspection.

Is this who I am. Is this where I belong? What’s mine to do? What would serve the highest?

In my travels I’ve noticed and admired similar golden threads at places as diverse as the Ojai Foundation and Three Creeks in California, and the Tamera Healing Biotope in Portugal.

I’ve visited Tamera, a so-called ‘free love’ community, welcomed some of its co-workers to Findhorn and shared a source-to-sea Walking Water pilgrimage with others in California. I respect the courage, commitment and authenticity I’ve seen and experienced.

Public speaker, teacher and author Charles Eisenstein recently described Tamera as a really bold undertaking. “One thing that has been moving me is just how audacious the project is. And how deep and fearless the exploration.”

Rather than being a sexual free-for-all, it is about creating a culture free from fear that aims to free people, especially young people, from the shame, secrecy, taboos and judgments around eros, or sexual love and attraction. It’s brave and honest.

A recent documentary entitled The Village of Lovers is worth a look if you’re curious. https://thevillageoflovers.com/watch

In my meanderings I’ve realised you don’t have to be in a Tamera or Findhorn to experience the best of community. A friend walking the legendary Camino do Santiago in Spain commented: “It’s like a walking Findhorn.”

During the Walking Water pilgrimage https://walking-water.org/ I realised I’d never been happier or more fulfilled – and that while trekking through hot, harsh conditions and sleeping under the stars for weeks on end. It fulfilled my love of adventure, challenge and contribution.

There was a common vision of protecting the Earth and her sacred waters, defending the rights and dignity of indigenous people, collaborating with like-minded idealists and trusting in the wisdom and messages from the natural world. Beauty was pervasive, from the backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra Mountains to the love, hope and yearning mirrored in many faces along the way.

Again and again over the years I’ve come back to the thought that this feels like home. And home, I now know, can be a place or a state of being. It is anywhere that my heart is wide open.

In recent weeks and months home has been the seclusion of the Findhorn Foundation’s retreat house on the sacred Scottish Isle of Iona, and, on the opposite side of the world, the loving embrace of close family and friends in Cape Town; Saddlebrook Estate, an oasis within the bustling busyness of Johannesburg and the Raptor’s View Wildlife Estate of Hoedspruit, that is a dynamic staging point for innumerable South African wildlife adventures.

Mostly my inspiration has come from taking time to look deeply into the eyes of another, recognising that spark of divinity.

As humanitarian, theologian and Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer observed: “The only thing of importance, when we depart, will be the traces of love we have left behind.” 





Choose an angel https://innerlinks.com/angel-cards/pick-an-angel

Geoff Dalglish

Geoff Dalglish

Odyssey's 'Pilgrim at Large'

Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.

To connect with Geoff email [email protected] or visit www.findhorn.org.

Geoff Dalglish

Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.