Like Rabbits Do

by Robbie Love
Entering the gravel lot off Woehrle Road, I tried in vain to ignore the thumping pitter-patter in my chest. This visit was building up to be quite different than my first short stay—that first meeting of Frankie Danger and the Unruly Allies (future band name), aka the Milkweed Mercantile’s writing workshop.

Robbie (3rd from right) with his Dancing Rabbit visitor group, October 2017. Photo by Katherine.

More significant than the duration, a venue had become a prospective home, and I, a prospective Rabbit. So with my introverted mind still processing sorghum harvest at Sandhill (memories like reducing cane juice) and a desire to hop around like a Rabbit for a few weeks, I hesitantly nosed my way through the portal of the car door, through the parking lot, and into the program with nose twitching and ears to the sky, and during those three weeks I got to build a warren, eat, cuddle, grow, and of course dance…like Rabbits do.

A major draw to Dancing Rabbit is the freedom to build a dream home. It brought the founders to rural MO; it brought me to the proverbial doorstep. I’m mesmerized by this. Building a home with my hands once seemed like wizardry to me, but at DR it’s commonplace. So upon arrival I set up the one shelter I can build (a 1.5 person backpacking tent)… only to move everything into a “hole in the ground” a week later. The “hole” is an earthbag structure affectionately called The Gnome Dome.

Weeks later and I hope to live in a similarly artful and cozy hole someday. I also enjoyed a workshop discussion about alternative construction and an opportunity to work on an ongoing site—turns out mixing medium clay straw barefoot is a fun way to start a dance circle, like Rabbits do.

Another priority for Rabbits, for me, for ALL living things is, of course food! While breaking bread at any of the kitchen co-ops, the Milkweed Mercantile “Pizza night!” or in a private residence, I ate WELL at every meal. Our group “broke fast” erratically, it was like a peppering of “semi-impromptu co-op-ish” group breakfasts over a plate of “let’s-fend-for-ourselves-until-we’ve-all-had-our-caffeine” style eggs (of local origin, of course), with a side of small-team cooking.

Most food consumed morning through night was local, plant-based, and/or organic. I was surprised to find access to the food distributor UNFI and a shop in Rutledge (pop. 109) both well-stocked and nicely priced. While convenient, I wonder if this access disincentivizes more on-site food production, but regardless of origin, nothing builds community like sharing a hot meal, and there was plenty of this at DR.

After all community is, as one Rabbit says, “a coming (in)to union.” This community-building component permeated the entirety of the program. Our viz group got close. I’m talking summer camp bonding. The visitors formed a temporary subcommunity of sorts—sharing meals, lending hands and ears, cuddling for warmth.

As time went on, questions were answered, other obligations called our names, and our numbers dwindled from 16 to 5, so the fire rings and mealtime song circles closed-in (summer camp, see? I told you). Be it summer camp, Rabbits, or larger communities, this coming together is sacred, and I’m grateful to have joined up with these folks for as long as we were together.

And as with any coming of union, opposing forces meet, providing the energy for growth—both inter- and intra- personal. An open session of the tri-community Men’s Group provided insight into a vehicle for taking people on journeys of personal growth. More importantly it revealed a group of people interested in driving that vehicle towards a positive masculine identity and healthier gender relationships in their hearts, in their relationships, and in human culture. Easier said than done.

Sometimes living relationships are hard work. Sometimes they’re messy. Sometimes one may find themselves uncomfortable. This group is practical. They demonstrated how one might navigate this discomfort through relationships with strangers, with neighbors, with friends, family, Gaia, God. I had many reminders that we meet God through right relationship and in loving relationship, no discomfort is too much.

With this reminder, that I am a part of something bigger, that when things seem like more than I can handle alone, I have help and support, I drove off with no less of a thumping in my chest, but two new friends in the car, and memories of us facing down our fears and reveling in our joys side by side along with a colony of warren-building Rabbits planting the seeds of a healthier culture and dancing around in the mud…. like Rabbits do.

P.S. A big thanks to all the bright and shining people who helped mold this experience into a powerful opportunity for education, growth, and fellowship—visitors, Rabbits, and neighbors alike. There are too many of you to name in this short piece.

Would you love to have your own “like Rabbits do” experience? Maybe do some natural building or gardening, connect with like-minded folks? Then come join us in a 2018 session of our Sustainable Living Visitor Program!