Years ago I showed a film to a group of men who were newly bereaved about how Tibetans once – maybe still – cared for their dying and their dead. When the film ended, the long silence was finally broken when one of the men said, “I feel like I come from nowhere.” And that seems to be what happens inside most of us when we see or hear of a people wholly at home where and how and who they are: we feel the shadowed hollow of our immigrant, refugee history, and our lack of ceremonial instinct and experience, or we try to fill it up by stealing something from those people who are miraculously still deeply, ancestrally, ceremonially alive.
Communities with endurance, purpose and commitment to future generations aren’t built on a footing of longing for such a community, or missing one. They are built on a willingness to learn and try and fail and learn some more about how real villages are a kind of cooking pot, the clay for which was taken from ancestral soil, and how that cooking pot hangs from a tripod of relation: how the villagers are with each other, how they are with the created world around them, how they are with the Unseen World.
The balm for feeling like you come from nowhere is to learn in a massive way about where you are from, and to do that with others. — Stephen Jenkinson from Making a Village