The Dominoes of Discernment

“Intelligent risk taking…means entering with no illusions and knowing that your endeavors will always be attended by the conflict between the voices of despair and faith, whose concussive debate will pit your soul against your mind in a boxing ring. It means knowing you must follow your heart even in the face of heartbreak and courageously contend with whatever spills from it when it tips.” 

— Gregg Levoy from Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life

Goodbye 909

With a full truck and a heavy heart, we moved.

The boxes have all been moved. The furniture as well. Last Wednesday our material lives were puzzle-pieced into the shape of a moving truck and taken 10 miles west to our new home at Solsberry Hill. As we were leaving our home on Blair Avenue, Leo said, “Mom. I thought we were moving for pretend. But we’re moving for real!” He was surprised but calm, simply noting that things were different than he thought they would be. I wish I had the same emotional detachment about this change!

In the hard moments, I re-read Callings, the book that helped me make sense of our desire to live on a community farm. I think about all the dominoes that had to fall to make our move possible. I try to remember what we are moving toward instead of what we are leaving. As a reminder to myself that this move was not spontaneous or reckless, but rather the result of a long, serious discernment, I want to revisit our discernment process.

David and I began to seriously investigating our internal inclination toward a rural community in 2016 when David took a Permaculture Design Course at Lazy Black Bear. That summer and fall we worked on our yards with new purpose. David learned to use a chainsaw, and with the logs he pruned we created borders for our garden beds. We replanted our blueberries with proper amendments and put a pear and peach tree in the front yard. We started to plan for our summer farming sabbatical by visiting Anathoth Farm and St. Isidore Farm.

In May 2017, David worked with the Bloomington Community Orchard to plant twelve fruit trees at the BCW. We spent June and July living and working on Catholic Worker farms. In trying out the farming life, we challenged ourselves to be completely open to what the experience would provoke in us. Though we returned with a strong desire to live on a community farm, we still had to figure out what that desire meant. Would that mean leaving the BCW? Would it mean starting a BCW farm? Would that mean joining an existing community or starting one?

In the fall of 2017, I happened upon the book, Callings. I found it articulated all of my perplexing, paradoxical emotions and helped me find clarity. In addition to reading, I began to practice silent prayer most mornings of the week. I needed to listen for what God was saying to me in all of this. What I heard when I was quiet was an invitation to growth and change, an invitation to confront fear, and an assurance that I was strong enough for what lay ahead.

Two other circumstances helped me affirm this calling. The first is that David and I shared the same vision and have been drawn closer together in shaping the dream. I am grateful I can rely on him to ground me in our vision when I’m off in the land of doubt and fear. The second reason I affirm this calling is that it has led me into a deeper, more personal experience of God / The Light / The Spirit. Living with uncertainty and taking risks requires me be more open to the mystical and divine in the world. It requires greater grounding and greater surrender.

Discernment is about asking questions and listening for answers. It is about learning to read the events of our lives for their larger meaning. It is about dreams and journeys and the synergy between our interior and exterior worlds. And it is about planning, logistics, boxes, furniture, new homes and new growth. We have moved – and are moving – toward the call.


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