How trust can be a practical tool for positive change

Being able to trust can create a powerful foundation for reframing how we see the world and taking more purposeful actions in our lives, discovers Jini Reddy at the Findhorn New Story Summit

Is trust the secret ingredient in the recipe for creating a brave new world?

As I travelled to the Findhorn Foundation, a spiritual community, learning centre and ecovillage in Scotland, I chewed this over. I was attending the New Story Summit, a week-long global gathering aimed at creating new narratives around ecology, social justice and the economy.

The question seemed apt: after all, the Findhorn Foundation community owes its existence to acts of radical trust. In the sixties, its founders faithfully followed their intuition – the ‘still, small voice within’ as one of the trio, Eileen Caddy called it. Via guidance received in this way barren soil was miraculously transformed into a wonderland of garden produce: flowers, plants, herbs and vegetables, including 40-pound cabbages that stunned horticultural experts (well-documented at the time). A community based on a culture of service and deep listening grew from this. Trust led to a new model, hitherto unthinkable.

Yet, it’s an ancient and sacrosanct practice within indigenous cultures. “For many sustainable cultures there’s a principle of reciprocity and right relations. This often translates as ‘never take more than you can use, never harvest more from this Mother Earth for your life needs than you can replace in your own lifetime’,” says Pat McCabe of the Dine Nation in New Mexico, who led rituals during the event.

“It’s not always easy to practice trust. At times during my week at Findhorn I felt at sea, challenged by the scale of the questions posed, unsure as to what I might contribute”

“To do this I would have to have trust or ‘faith’ that my needs would be provided for on a continual basis, either directly from the Earth or from community. Because it is a practice of indigenous cultures to maintain a broad spectrum of ways of knowing, there can be a constant conversation between a human being and the natural world and the world of energies. This allows us to not only have trust, but a sense of wellbeing that can stand up to trial and error.”

It’s not always easy to practice trust. At times during my week at Findhorn I felt at sea, challenged by the scale of the questions posed, unsure as to what I might contribute, and in the midst of it all, struggling with a personal conflict. Yet I was not alone. We were so many, from all corners of the globe, bearing hope, inspiration, care and equally chaos, hurt, fear: a cauldron of humanity.

Doubt plagued me every single day: what now? What next? “Trust”, I’d mutter under my breath. I discovered that if I walked willingly into that sometimes hollow, lonely space of not knowing where connection or a spark of inspiration might next arise, if I had the patience and discipline to stand still and not force a decision, guidance would present itself, naturally.

In this way synchronicity and small miracles unfolded: the joyful appearance of an ally, a startling opportunity, or a timely, fated encounter. One day, after consulting with that ‘still, small voice within’ I ran a workshop, on the theme of journeys into nature. Trust had given me, a shy writer, the courage to share a passion. On another day, heeding a need for quiet, I opted out of a vital-sounding conference session and instead walked on the dunes, where the sun emerged, radiant. A sun I had badly needed to glimpse and which restored my spirit.

Charles Eisenstein, a gift culture pioneer, and a speaker and guiding light at the event has written about the sacredness of the barren ground and the potential that lies therein. ‘‘The challenge in our culture is to allow yourself to be in that space, to trust that the next story will emerge when the time in between has ended, and that you will recognise it,” he writes in his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.

To my mind, his words don’t just offer comfort, but a technique we can deploy in our daily lives. After all, as he has pointed out, it’s not as though acting reflexively or doggedly in the face of environmental and economic destruction, conflict and disease has done anything for the planet.

“The gardens at Findhorn flourish because no will is imposed. We merely ask of the soil and the plants: ‘What do you need? How can we work together?’ and then we become still and listen,” said Kajedo Wanderer, Findhorn’s long-serving gardener on a Co-creation with Nature workshop I attended during the summit. This approach can serve us as we sow seeds in our own lives.

We need to follow trust and vision with ways of embedding good in the world, as Jonathan Porritt, founder of Forum for the Future and a Findhorn Fellow pointed out. Next year, he is leading Reconnections at Findhorn, a course asking what effective actions mean, and what values might underpin them.

For me, the task (and joy) is to weave into the fabric of my days purposeful actions, as expressed through the gifts I share, the relationships I nourish, the choices I make as a consumer, the food I eat, the campaigns I support, the humility and forgiveness I show and the deep connections I forge with nature – actions, flowing from moments when I am able to trust and listen.

Perhaps the cumulative effect of actions such as these, practiced by each one of us, will be authentic change – not mindless progress – for our crazy, beautiful, grief-stricken world. My heart tells me that this is already happening. And that is something to trust.

Reconnections at Findhorn, led by Jonathan Porritt, will be held 26-30 April 2015 at the Findhorn Foundation.

Photo title: Kajedo Wanderer ran the Co-creation with Nature workshop at the New Story Summit and is a gardener at Findhorn

Photo credit: © Jini Reddy

  • Deborah

    Wonderful article, thank you Jini!

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