I spent the morning catching up with an “online” friend, forging a new “on ground” relationship. The internet is amazing, really. To be able to initiate these kinds of relationship and build community having only the context of Facebook or an e-mail forum is phenomenal. I’m a transplant to this town, and yet there are people here who know me, and who are willing to show me such great hospitality.
My friend and I talked about ADF, about Druidry, and about our own personal, evolutionary spiritualities. I haven’t had many occasions to talk about my spiritual path post-ADF. My departure still feels pretty fresh. Part of what makes a former spiritual tradition feel like it’s former is having the opportunity to talk about it in past tense. There’s a great value in working through your thoughts with people who either understand directly what you’re going through, or who are simply willing to listen. I was grateful to have that opportunity today.
I heard myself speak of the things that frustrated me about ADF; things that I haven’t written about online. I’ve made a deliberate choice not to spend too much time writing publicly about what I see as problematic in the religion, its infrastructure or its practices. I have no intention of bad-mouthing ADF. I’m not that dude. I don’t think that would be productive or kind.
But bringing up my departure leads me to wonder how important belonging to a new group is at this point in my spiritual journey.
I’ve been going through a few of the OBOD gwers over the past few days and thinking about picking up my Bardic studies. There’s an OBOD seed group here in Portland, and although it isn’t incredibly active I find comfort in knowing there are a few Druid-leaning people in the area. This seed group is even leading the closing ritual at the upcoming Pagan Pride day event in Salem.
A part of me feels eager to develop some kind of religious community here in Portland, but then another part of me is hesitant. I don’t need a rebound relationship. I don’t want to find some new thing to dive into, to distract myself with, or to serve as a replacement for what ADF has been over the past few years.
I also don’t want to rush into taking on the mantle of a new tradition. This morning my friend told me that, from all outside appearances, I looked to be completely invested in ADF. And I think I was invested. Mostly. Almost completely. I think I was as invested as I could be while still holding a certain amount of space for my own doubts and uncertainties. I’m not sure I believe that any one tradition is 100% complete or correct, and because of this I always hold open just a little bit of space for the possibility that it won’t be the right thing for me.
Perhaps this works to my detriment. I don’t know.
But I think about going to PPD and introducing myself to the local OBODies, and I wonder if I can manage to do that without diving in head-first into a new group. I wonder if there’s a way for me to engage in fellowship without needing to fully become some new thing. It would be nice to place the focus on community building in a grass-roots way: slower, more deliberate, more patient.
This is a liminal space. I’m not really any one thing, and I’m in a position where I
have to get to choose what I want to become. There’s something exciting about that, even if that excitement comes with a degree of uncertainty. I could become a full fledged OBOD member again, or I could look into AODA. I could hunt down something altogether different, or — perhaps the scariest choice of all — I could decide to navigate what it means to be Pagan without community. With as much work as I’ve done for solitaries, I’m not sure I know how to be a Pagan without belonging to a group, and I think it would be a mistake to rush through this process simply because the solitude feels uncomfortable.
Fast as a speeding oak always seemed like a terrible slogan. It used to bother me so much. It’s funny, though, because now it seems like sage advice for me. Perhaps the trees could have served as better teachers if I’d have let them.
I always thought that ADF moved too slowly, but I wonder how much of that was influenced by me moving too fast.