Posted by: scintillatingspeck | February 19, 2016


I’ve been unwinding the skeins of story lines.  They are long, and tangled, with bits of woolen fluff flying off of them.  I’ve been reading words I’ve written, transcribing notebooks, and reading thoughts like runes in my blurry memory.  There’s this Book, and I’m feeling my way into its guts, before I can speak-write it truthfully.  It takes so long.  I’ve heard it said that we teach what we need to learn; we write what we need to read.  I think it takes this long because it’s not just a Book (even with that gargantuan capital B that should be a hundred stories high)—it’s the map I need to live from this point forward, to see where I’ve been, what I’ve been pointing towards, where I need to go.

There are words, images, themes that spiral around insistently, repetitively, demanding my attention.  Lately I have been circling this word, this idea of Tribe.

Who has a tribe, these days?  in the Culture of Alienation?  We’re supposed to disavow our origins as primates who evolved to thrive in bands of 50-100 souls.  We’re supposed to identify with being part of a society of millions or billions.  Even more, though, we’re supposed to see ourselves as strictly unitary, individual, a massive conglomeration of separate Selves, mostly in competition with others.  We speak of communities.  We say we belong to this or that workplace, or school, or religious institution, or town, or nation— but what of the tribe?  What of family, blood and chosen, of being connected body and soul, of a commitment, a belonging that goes far beyond the conventional lip-service given to such?

The only sense I can make of “tribe” is that it will never exist in the way I most want it to, with me and my child surrounded, in person, by the people that matter most to us.  The only way I can see it, visualize it, is in fragments scattered around, like a dream that exploded colossally, its pieces still glinting and shivering in isolation, seeking re-assembly and wholeness.  I see myself dashing around, touching these pieces, these people, these parts of myself, my heart.  I’m still here.  We are not separate.  I know we are in pieces, though.

The forces that keep us in pieces are profound.  They are woven into the stories, the myths, the beliefs in which we place our bedrock faith.  People don’t take kindly to their bedrock getting blown up, after all the other blowings-up of this culture—what ground is there to stand on?  Is it not understandable that we want to feel contained, safe, oriented?  It’s understandable.  It’s also the most dangerous thing I’ve ever heard of.

I have a tribe.  It called me to jump into a roiling river, to relinquish the banks, to swim for my life and theirs.  I have to touch them, be with them, in any way I can find.  We feed one another.  We survive because of one another.  They are people who haven’t lost track of what matters.  Our shared fidelity isn’t based on institutional structures and demands and hierarchies.  We look within, and there we are, dwelling in the One Heart.

That’s my home, right there.

Photo on 2016-02-19 at 14.55




  1. words from a song i wrote a long time ago (C) marlowe rafelle:

    if you know where i’ve been
    then you know where i’m going
    the long way the strong way home
    feeling high feeling low
    feeling the times i just don’t know
    feeling holy, holy holy

    ❤ 🙂

    • Thank you for the song, lovely Marlowe. I’d love to hear the tune sometime.

      • and i to play it for you. it needs more words 🙂

      • Does it need more words? In any case, I like it.

      • …hinting that you may help me add them some day 🙂 …

  2. I love how you wrap this all up, Jen. “Our shared fidelity isn’t based on institutional structures and demands and hierarchies. We look within, and there we are, dwelling in the One Heart.” I see people fight so fiercely against this gut instinct all the time. Thanks for writing. Again.

    • Yeah. Let’s not fight it. I’m glad it spoke to you.

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