A lot has happened since my last post. The old commune broke up, and we moved to Huntington Beach, California. We were there for a long time, like a whole year(!), and then moved up to B.C. Beautiful country, up here in the Northwest. When I grow up I might want to spend some time living there.
In B.C. my mom and dad hooked up with Owen & Sandi from Jesus People Europe and some Canadian couples like Paul & Lydia. They were invited up to Canada to be part of a new ministry there by that same angel who helped us in Europe, Russ Griggs. My dad said they were getting the band back together. They started up a new commune, HMS, along with a new band, Servant, first called Higher Ground. We stayed in B.C. for awhile, first on Vancouver Island, where I went to Kindergarten, then on the mainland in the Okanagan Valley, in Penticton, and Kaleden, where I went to 1st Grade. Kindergarten was with a really neat teacher who taught us how to make stone soup, and where I asked Jesus into my heart- though it really wasn't that significant. I was committed to Him before, and ocassionally after. I remember in our house in B.C. I would witness to the neighbor boy with the picture Bible. In 1st grade I learned how to multiply, at least 10x10. A very old 5th grader walked by and told me one day, so I remembered. We lived in Kaleden, where there were 20 foot snow drifts, and I read all through the Happy Hollister series and learned the sign alphabet in the back of one of the books. Once walking home from school, down the hill, I ran faster than a car! (Some people say the car was moving really slowly, but they're wrong.) And I got to hold my little brother, Cody, right after he came back from the hospital. He was really sweet.
Then we moved down to San Fransisco. We lived two blocks from the Castro District in a large house, and did street witnessing there. The community kept growing, sometimes inadvertedly. Bob Hardy was a lead singer in the band, and took care of us a lot when they weren't on tour. He was pretty good looking, muscular, and occasionally gay guys would follow him home from Castro as he was jogging. They'd stay a couple days, figure out what the community was all about, and escape out a back story window.
We supported ourselves through procuring in garbage and odd jobs, and we also went on tour showing Brother Sun Sister Moon, the finest movie ever made, about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. We'd spend a lot of time on Telegraph Hill with Gordy, Bob, and Bill. I also learned that year that my little brother actually did not like me banging his head together with a friend of his. Honestly, I thought they enjoyed it. I learned otherwise when I got spanked by the principal. And when I got spanked two weeks later when my mom found out about it.
Seth, at the breakfast table, innocently: You ever get spanked at school Jed?
Me, in my head: Can't lie...What do I say...My mom is standing...right...here...
We moved up outside Grants Pass, Oregon, where I live now. I want to stress, outside Grants Pass. They have their mascot, the caveman, standing in front of the city, with his family. We are not part of that. We are outside the city limits, in Wilderville, in the countryside. We are also not part of the Rajneesh's group. We wear no orange. Though we've always been a bit jealous because they have something like 100 square miles and we have only 24 acres.
Still, this has been the most awesome place to grow up in. It's 24 acres, bounded by the Applegate River and a creek, with a back woods, A-frames, a barn, and main houses that we've built or added on to. We've lived in many different places in the last five years, including trailers, over in Gold Hill, in the office, and my favorite, the A-Frame, where I got to stay upstairs in my own loft. I've attended 5 schools while I've been here- Madrona, Manzanita, New Hope, Gold Hill, and my favorite, Fish Hatchery Common School, the one I'm in now, in my 7th grade year.
The band produced their first album, Shallow Water. It had an interior of a wave demolishing the wealthy. The album was folk rock, with a strong justice message, calling the Church to be the Church. It's probably my favorite of the albums. Servant was very groovy, in that they didn't just sing, but also did a lot of theatre bits in the middle of their presentations, because of my dad's background in the theatre. Of course, it's spoiled me for any other bands. I keep on expecting skits in the middle, and all they have is music! 1000s have come to Christ through the band and the film work.
Outside of school, and reading, and learning facts, and making lots and lots of lists (which is really fun!), I mostly play with the other kids in the community. I'm the oldest, and then Seth, my brother, so I tend to lead the games. We of course play Superfriends, but our favorite is Animal Days, where you pretend to be different animals. This got tiring after awhile, so we changed it to different versions. Like you each choose a different ecosystem to be from, or everyone has to be from the same ecosystem or continent. Or you are all different animals, and then you switch, and get married to different animals, and one person becomes the offspring of that combination, and the other a new animal, and then you have to act like that chimera and how it would work in the surroundings, like what kind of home it would be in and what it would eat and how it would talk and walk.
We ran through the woods, and explored a lot, and sometimes set up tables so that people in the communty could ask any fact they wanted. Then one day we were all praying for lunch in front of the common house, thinking they should have been back. And then the police pulled up, and talked to my dad. And my mom came running over to them, and started crying. So I went over, and asked what had happened. And my dad said, "Honey, you'll never see your brother again." I ran over and threw myself on the ground, screaming and kicking and denying.
Seth was in a car accident with two other community members, John and Fred, and they all died. Head-on collision with a front-loaded kerosene camper. It was our fault, because the pick-up they were in on the way to the dump was over-loaded with bricks.
That was two years ago now. He was my best friend ever. Since then Peter and Ben have come. Peter is a year younger than me, Ben 3 years younger, and I get to play with them a good deal.
The band has continued with a number of records. Petra opened for Servant during one of the tours. Rockin Revival was the 2nd album, with Suburban Josephine that my mom helped write, about a woman who left her first calling to pursue the life in Suburbia. I'm Gonna Live was like the anthem song for the band for years, and has taught me how to respond if I ever get held up at knife-point in the future. And Look Out Babylon:
"That where the oil flows the most is where the tension lies...
Soldiers in Afghanistan, sanctions to Iran
Shortage of diplomacy, we're running out of time."
The next was World of Sand. You see the giant orange rising out of the back? If you look close, you can see the "t" of the Sunkist on it.
That said, the songs inside were much better than the cover. Jungle Music was all about how the traditional church's are losing out on the rest of America by being so anti-rock, forgetting that God gave rock n' roll to me and you. And Sudden Death is at the end. It should really be played with the next song. After my brother's death the band went on tour with this song, which begins with a conversation between Seth and the guys and my mom, and sings of what it's like to lose someone, being angry with God, and looking for hope.
Then there was Caught in the Act and Light Maneuvers. Caught in the Act can actually be listened to right now. I like Courage to Burn, which encourages us towards martydom, and Wardance, of how beating the drums of war is simply sin. We don't really have a creed, but Servant's songs have really become our hadith, after the Bible, describing our theology.
What else? We're making money with some people having office jobs in town, and still procuring, and especially through the tree planters. The band doesn't make a lot of money because we try to do the concerts for free or at very low prices so anyone can attend. The treeplanters do a lot of work and the community couldn't survive without them. But we also have a farm with crops and get milk from goats and a cow. And my favorite of all is my own pet, Charlotte, a 5' long pig. Her mother was huge, as big as a horse minus the neck. She grew from a small piglet to a big dog in just two weeks. I like to sit with her and talk- I learned some of her language, including how to say "I love you". (It's like the French chant de cour.) She's very smart, but she doesn't like me to ride her for too long. And she's very committed to our Lord. We've tried a number of times, but she wants to remain a gilt, committed to eternal virginity in dedication to Christ.
I love it here. I mean, even though things go bad, like with my brother, this is the best possible way to grow up. I have a huge family of 80 people, many brothers and sisters, and if there's any need it's met. We have 20 cars that we share, and usually at least 10 of them are working. There are probably some 10 houses to live in. We don't have a lot to eat but it's not like we're hungry, and the food is really good. There's lots of places to play and people to play with. And we are part of something bigger, to share about Jesus, to worship Him throughout the day. I hope it never ends. Like "I'm Gonna Live" sings:
"As you go through life and hard times come,
and you wonder what to do.
Remember saints who went before,
and let them speak to you!"