A quiet voice said, “Hey George.”
George feels a warm hand upon his forehead, and opens his right eye, slightly. Seeing through the squint, his mother’s hair tickles his cheek and annoys his eyelashes. He smells her.
Still returning to himself, he searches his memories: friend, flowers, a yellow sleeve. I have to pee. Repressing the nagging sensations, George listens. He heard it. “51” Or was it “give him one?” “51.” Fifty-one! Uhg. Again. George forgot and slept.
“Ms. Elda?” “What are you doing in here?” “Please, come with me, George needs to rest.”
Throughout the empty tunnels, their footsteps echoed. “The Center for Renewal” was now mostly empty, except for the Friends that maintained it. In years now past, “The Center” was busy with patients and doctors and counselors assisting The Friends adjust to their new life. A life now refreshed with optimism and hope – a culture that respected all – and the good work needed to build it.
As Elda followed the care-nurse, she remembered her contributions. Firmly convicted, she worked to support the aims of The Center. Elda remained humble, though her many hours of service were known in the Circles. Her continued service to her husband, the Care-Taker, strengthened the communal respect.
Elda stumbled. Slightly embarrassed, she smiled as she followed. Her thoughts were elsewhere, taken there by the power of the Center. She was surprised at the strength of the memories the Center provoked.
As the First Friends began to die, Elda was driven to make certain their vision was preserved. As she passed the habitations, she remembered organizing sharings – generational sharings. One story she recalled was of Alfred the Clean. He was one of her last recordings. At 20 +58, or 78, Alfred, like many, came alone, and did not know any other Friends. He told Elda that he knew there must be “something more or another way to live” and he set out to find it. He wished to find a “better place,” a place that would respect his life.
Alfred told Elda that he searched for community, for his people. As a teenager, he struggled. He ran away from home many times. He told his parents that he loved them, and that he was grateful for everything they have done for them, then he would run away.
Elda remembered that she pressed Alfred. “You must have been unhappy? You must have been lonely?” Alfred said, “no, I was happy or I didn’t think about it. I don’t remember. I didn’t think about it.”
The years following the first generation were difficult. It required intensive efforts from Elda and the entire community, especially those in the second generation, to keep the course. Elda, again lost in her memories, floating and darting from one to the next, realized the old struggle was more alive in her than she wished. Despite her unwavering belief in the community, she was internally exhausted. Elda followed the care-nurse through the Center, each footstep, calling memory.
Below the turbulent and chaotic life of the ordinaries, The People built a new life. They escaped the brutality and callousness. Here, in The Palace, The People gathered, a retreat from the heartless. Those that came before had no escape — no new lands existed for them to begin anew. No Australia. No America. No West. Nowhere to run, and they felt they could not hide.
But, there is a story told that “The First Person realized their was uncharted land. There is an escape. Not a “City on a Hill”, rather “a city under a hill”. Convincing other People, those with heart, he argued that the liberation, lie below their feet. Deep within the warmth of The Mother, Earth, they could renew life. “Escape Within” — this became a code that connected thousands seeking to live in harmony.