Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sometimes boulders, sometimes pebbles

One of the things that I am learning as I get older is to think longer and wider.  When I was young, it was all about what I could achieve with my own hands or my own brain or through trying to control a specific outcome. 

But something happens along the way when we realize that not only can’t we truly control much in this life, but the only lasting impact comes from the exchange of ideas.  The germination of these ideas and the nurturing of them in our relationships with our children, our friends and the people we are fortunate enough to mentor and serve in our work.

It has often been described as dropping the pebble into the pond and then seeing the ripples of water as they make their way out.  Both Linda and I are at a point in life where we are dropping more pebbles than hauling boulders.  Linda with her passion towards health and wellness, me in my mentoring of young entrepreneurs and also in our sustainable farming work in the US and of course in Veglio. 

And while we constantly struggle when the outcomes are not immediate or do not look exactly as we envisioned, it is rewarding to see the positive impacts around us.

So it is with our Italian work as well.  When we first started nearly seven years ago, there were really no signs of development in our little village.  More ruins that were collapsing,  a water system in dire need of repair and no one interested in living there other than a few people who were looking to hide out for a few weeks out of the year.  In our own family, there were many more doubts than words of support.

But then with each ton of stone that we cleared and each wall that was resurrected, we started brainstorming.  How could we clear another piece of land and make it available to a young farmer?  Wouldn’t it be great if the old church was repaired and opened up to use?  We better clean up the old bread oven and make sure it can be used.   And then more land, and another building that could be an art studio or an architect’s office or a restaurant.

So here’s to the little ripples that are working their way to shore.  The old church has been cleaned up and a new altarpiece is under construction.  Our oratorio which is some 500 years old hosted a holy concert this past Friday April 25th.  This day is to honor St Mark, the patron saint of our little church and similar celebrations have been occurring throughout Italy for centuries

Leonardo's Dream
We are excited to have two new neighbors.  A wonderful German family of eight who are growing a garden, raising chickens and cows and also contributing with their music and woodworking.  And Renzo and Bruno from Milan who have been looking for an ancient stone house to restore and call their own.  

Renzo is an architect and a teacher who has bought the little blue house that sits about the bread oven. Work is already underway and they are looking forward to hosting many of their friends from the city who will bring new perspectives as well.

Our farming work is just beginning to take shape. Arianna and Sofia planted a biodynamic garden this Spring and are working on a course that can be taught to others throughout the region.  Beyond organic and taking full advantage of the rich ecosystem that is found in these mixed forests of chestnuts and larch.

Some of you may remember my brother Ken’s little accident off the stairs of a little house a few doors down.  Leonardo, a young Ossolano from a farming family, has decided to buy it and turn it one day into an osteria. 

Early Spring 2014 Festa
The whole area is also becoming a favorite picnic spot for young and old alike.  Fresh air, the mountains, music, food, laughter and ideas.  A fertile environment for certain to gather and debate and dream.

We will keep dropping those pebbles, despite the fact that sometimes they do not reach the shore and sometime the rain comes and floods our efforts for a little while. 

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;
therefore, we must be saved by hope.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
therefore, we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone;
therefore, we must be saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint;
therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness