I saw a posting today on Teo Bishop's blog (BTW if you have not subscribed and read him regularly you should) about "To Be Pagan Without Community." An amazingly thought provoking article. There was something in the blog that shocked me. Someone I really respected for his efforts within our tradition had left ADF. He brought ideas that challenged some of the more 'conventional' thinking. He even brought a few ideas that really caused some debate among the leadership and our ideas about how our religious community is structure and could be structured. I know I have been a bit out of the loop, my life is a bit insane right now but still it was a shocker. But it was a shocker when I had heard of others who stepped down and away from ADF for their differences with how things go, do not go, or that the Mother Grove (our ruling body) moves slow.
In ADF you will hear many people saying "Fast as a speeding Oak." It is a saying that really underlies how our Druid path operates. We are scholars, we are artists, we are leaders and we are both a community of many and a community of solitaries. This makes it difficult to try to introduce rapid change. Is that a bad thing? Maybe. Most of the time I see it as a virtue. I have seen both Christian and Pagan groups torn apart because of rapid change. The change was so dramatic and so sudden that old members were divided, new members shunning the old because they were still thinking in their traditional way. And in everyday life that is usually how change occurs, but in religion we expect something stable, something that doesn't chance on us without a very good darn reason and even then with resistance.
I do not for one minute believe that ADF or OBOD or Wicca or any other Pagan or Christian tradition is completely correct. Nor do I believe they have any right to make full claim on a members beliefs. I am an artist by nature and I see my life is a work of art. ADF for me is like a piece of canvas, it is the base on which I paint my own master piece. I pull from all my skills and knowledge of the past, I pull from all that I am learning, and what I find is that just like the saying goes 'Fast as a speeding oak' is about the right speed so that something wonderful comes from what I create, because even in a community of Pagans your spirituality is always solo for no one but you shares your temple. We join a religion for its founding cosmology and principles, its belief structure not for the people... if you do that then it is not spirituality, it's a social organization with some sort of agenda.
And as an artist I firmly believe that you never paint over a piece you have started. You do not walk away from it just because it started out great and then you realize it was not turning exactly the way you had expected. Instead you step back, examine what is happening and find the best way to work your essence into the piece the best way you can but never letting go of your own personal vision of it.
Always remember, if you vote with your feet or abstinence all you are doing is adding to the problem. Just because someone says no does not mean never. Try creating history for your case. Try a different approach. Go back to the drawing board with comments made to see where you can improve so that when you try again you will succeed.