Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Journey to Rainbow...

{Published in the Colorado Daily as a guest editorial on June 28, 2006}

This letter is an attempt at a counterpoint to the many negative articles and editorials that have been in the papers about the National Rainbow Gathering – held this year on National Forest Land near to Steamboat Springs. I'm leaving this morning for my "pilgrimage" to what I consider this holy gathering, so you'll have to pardon that this letter was written in haste.

Firstly, simply as a response to the idea that Rainbow is "just a bunch of dirty _______ (insert word here: hippies, hobos, partiers…) It is true, there are many colorful folks to be found at Rainbow, many of whom have been seen on the streets of Boulder – toting their guitars, shopping in our stores, hanging out in parks, and yes, even panhandling. There are many who find solace at Rainbow that don't find it within the normal confines of American society. In this way, Rainbow is not to be judged for its degenerates or hobos, but rather to be commended, like an ashram or safehouse or orphanage that welcomes (and feeds, clothes, and shelters) all. In truth, the "colorful" face of Rainbow you may think you see on the streets is just one facet. At Rainbow, you will also find many community leaders, successful business owners (heard of Gaiam?), teachers, healers, world-class musicians, spiritual practitioners from all religions, and even Ram Dass.

As someone who is considered a respectable member of society – as a teacher, performer, and healer – I can say that the level of "success" and recognition I receive has come only after a long and arduous (and creative!) struggle to find my path. I can understand why many lost souls come to Rainbow – it provides a safe place to explore new options for living in the world that weren't necessarily presented to us in our upbringing. At Rainbow, one can study with healers and teachers of multitudes of modalities – movement therapies, yoga, massage, meditation, nutritional therapy, creating intentional community, cooking, gardening, permaculture… In this wilderness haven, one comes to value the simple things more – the shade of trees, clean water, a good friend. One might return to society re-inspired to create meaningful works that honor these remembered values, to learn something new, to volunteer for something they believe in.

In truth, however much fuss is made about it, it is simply that we love to gather in the woods, feed each other, play songs around the fire, and have an overall good time while praying for peace and treading lightly on the land. It should be noted also that so many studies have shown the power of prayer to help not only the person praying, but also that which is being prayed for. On July 4th, we celebrate "Interdependence Day." There are no fireworks, no honoring of bombs and wars won. Instead, the day is dedicated towards prayer for world peace. We hold silent vigil for peace until "Rainbow noon" (generally closer to 1pm), at which point we circle in prayer, holding hands to symbolize our connectedness, and sing an "Aum" until the children's parade comes in – celebratory in their many colors, singing a song such as "Give Peace a Chance," and planting the peace pole in the center of the circle. The rest of the day is given over to celebration, i.e., drumming and dancing, singing, laughing, feeding each other…

In this way, by gathering, praying, and especially by celebrating, we are creating the new world we want to live in. It is the sense of celebration that renews us, strengthens us, and inspires us to keep working towards what we believe. So yes, while it is an incredible learning experience, nourishing for the pavement-worn soul, and a grand honoring of the sacredness of all life, it is also a great party. Welcome to come join us!

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