So, what just happened here in Grant County? What in tarnation was this Rainbow Gathering? This happening that broke the rules, but was such a powerful force that even the federal government agency in charge openly admitted that it couldn’t be stopped. What was this wild, energetic wind that just blew through this county like a two-week-long tornado, and now is all but gone — except, of course, for the cleanup (predicted to be completed, inspected and signed off by the Forest Service before month’s end).
Here’s my succinct debrief, offered from the viewpoint of an artist who has lived part-time in Grant County since 1967, and who also participated in this and several prior gatherings.
Grant County’s “paradise” was just visited by about 13,000 humans sharing a different kind of “hive mind” — a Rainbow mind — a kind of mind that has seldom been openly visible around these parts due to the cultural conservatism long-dominate here. These visitors came from just about everywhere, and from a wide range of social and professional strata --- from surgeon and lawyer to atheist, anarchist and religious zealot. Their idealized and espoused commonalities include dreams of world peace, self-sufficiency, connection to the earth and respect for all lifeforms. The realities of a “drainbow” element, composed for the most part of homeless and often intoxicated “street people” tarnishes but does not obliterate the ideals. Given the prevalent societal ostracization, that the Gathering allows this “drainbow element” to participate is viewable as a demonstration of the gathering’s compassionate toleration of human differences.
In any event, the gathering itself was essentially a huge rendezvous made up of a great many individuals and extended-family-sized groups acting in voluntary cooperation along well established patterns through a council and consensus process. In one way, it was simply a highly tolerant and festive homecoming of new and old friends. In another way, it was a test run of utopian love, everyone-share-mostly-everything ideals. And in another way, it was also a practice field for demonstrating or learning how to survive by pooling resources — if and when the known social order (often called “Babylon”) collapses.
Thus, inside the gathering was one pretty indescribable reality, but encircling the gathering was another reality — that of the Forest Service law enforcement gauntlet looking for any justification to confront attendees with ID checks, searches and citation or arrest nicks. And away from the gathering in our local communities was a third reality — one generally unfamiliar with what was happening (or why), and thus vulnerable to rumors, fears of being overrun, spun government press releases and media articles from various viewpoints.
Perhaps, given enough viewpoints, a whole picture emerges? Perhaps, as many philosophies expound, this actually is a non-accidental universe perfectly designed to maximize soul growth opportunities in an unbelievably synchronized way — one that recognizes the ripeness for growth of every single incarnate being in every moment? Inside of such a view, that the Rainbow Gathering happened here could only be seen as an unexpected gift to all of us to grow from, yes? Certainly it leaves behind a lot of “grist for the mill” to ponder. I pray we seize the opportunity to do that.
The Rev. David Seacord is a fine art painter who lives in Prairie City.