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Communities

 

 william

~ William D., Tivoli Community

    

While In my senior year in college I saw a poster that said, “Now That You Have Graduated From College, Get An Education. The Peace Corps.” Not too much later I became a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Colombia, South America. The experience of living in another culture, working and becoming friends with people that spoke another language, trying to learn to speak it myself, confronting different food, different humor, different customs, made me see that my world and my experiences were very partial and that life takes place on a much bigger scale than I had ever imagined.

I guess you could say that after those three years the life that I had lived before was gone, so there was no going back to it.

In retrospect, I can say that although I had more opportunities than most people and did many of the things that were supposed to give meaning and purpose in life, none of them seemed to be it.

Near the end of my first three years in Colombia I took a trip to Peru. I was alone, sitting on a rock, up in the mountains in one of those old Inca ruins. Mulling things over, it became very clear to me that I would never find whatever it was that I was looking for if I continued to pursue it as I had so far. I was 24 years old. Life would continue along the same lines and I would reach maybe 75 and die and nothing would essentially have changed. I would go from one thing to another and never really figure out what life was all about and what I was doing here.

Some friends had become acquainted with a Cafh representative who lived and worked in a nearby city and were enthusiastic about a “Spiritual path”. I initially rejected it and didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I fought it for a long while but finally my friends convinced me that I should talk to this person. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but when I left I knew that this person knew what I needed to know. It was as if somebody had finally introduced me to myself.

Several months later, I did something that I had never considered before in my life, and in fact was totally out of character for me. I entered a Monastic Community. I wasn’t thinking how I would live or that I was going to be celibate, or what diet I would follow, or work or any of that. I was following something much deeper than all that, something more fundamental than what my rational mind could conceive of, and this was clear for me.

When I entered the Community at first I was kind of at a loss. I didn’t get it. What was supposed to happen, and when? The director of the Community counseled me to be patient, to follow the practice and give things some time. It wasn’t an easy life and I was on the verge of leaving a few times before it started to click. The practice of Community life was like a projector that displayed my reality on a screen so that I could see it clearly. This is your situation, these are the tools you have to work with, get started.

In the Community everything that I do teaches me something and gives me the opportunity to understand and perhaps change. Through my own life I can connect to the lives of all human beings and unite with them in the most direct and substantial way.