There is this moment, when you hit a note just right or find the perfect elusive phrase, when you know you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. When you feel this, just for a second, it is possible to understand your own significance. In a planet of over seven billion people, this is no small achievement. Once you feel it, you spend every waking moment working your ass off to get there again.
I have felt this moment from time to time in my painting studio, while sitting with my guitar, or even, rarely, while writing. But, most often, this sense of being exactly where I need to be, of doing exactly what I am made to do, comes from my community. Nevermore so than from the members of Miranda’s Hearth.
For the past two plus years, I have watched and worked to make this community grow. From a smattering of initial interactions, to people showing up at my apartment every once in a while, to a group of people who take off from their own lives to spend time with each other, we have grown from a collection of strangers to a family of friends.
I personally sought out each of the fifteen Hearth Members, finding them in dance halls and conferences, craft fairs and open mic nights, hoping against hope that they would dive into my dream with me, and I have been blown away by their response. They have done the impossible: they have shown up. Again and again I have walked into rooms to see smiling, supportive faces and each time I go weak in the knees knowing that these glorious people have taken the time to show up for me, with me. I have learned, over the past two years, that there is nothing more terrifying than asking people to dream with you, and nothing more validating than seeing it happen.
This weekend, at the end of a long stressful summer full of new jobs, projects, relationships, and apartments, my community gathered around me once more. We trickled into the campsite at Lake Dennison in Central, MA and spent forty blissful hours immersed in nature, art, and good company. It was our second annual Hearth Retreat and it is one of the few events I don’t over schedule. While I believe that a certain amount of structure creates a safe environment in which to create connections, every once in a while you have to take the leap, grab the people you care about, and see what happens.
As always, the Hearth Members rose to the occasion. We did yoga in front of a sunset, gathered firewood for campfires, roasted s’mores (both traditional and gluten-free ones), went on a four mile hike, swam in the lake, read books, and played music. The actual activities were enjoyable, but inconsequential. Throughout it all, I heard the people I care most about talk to each other and in doing so develop connections with each other, and I knew it was working.
Saturday night, after a day relaxing in nature, we returned to the campsite and churned out vegetable shish kebabs, more s’mores, and even some ghost stories. As the sun set and the fire crackled, I took a deep breath and looked around at my community. Their laughter and music, their warmth as we piled in front of the fire, it anchored me in a way that nothing else can. I knew, at that moment, that I was exactly where I needed to be and, better yet, that even two years in, this is only the beginning.
View more photographs from the retreat on our Facebook Page: