In a land far, far away…from here. There sits nestled in the woods of EasternGermany, in a tiny village called Gersdorf, a castle, or Schloss as they call it. It was left behind in ruins from centuries ago. Until… once upon a time, 5 years ago, A small community of people settled here to work the land and renovate the castle. They are an Intentional Community who are working to own the property someday so they can continue creating simpler lives for themselves, together.
Each year, they host a free festival called “La Libertad.” All are welcome.
This was my experience…
As I walk the grounds of La Libertad, I could easily be in the U.S. with the Beatles and Bob Dylan playing through the main stage speakers. There is an outdoor kitchen, community fire, outdoor bar, massage wagon, outdoor bath and shower area, compost toilets, beautiful clay oven for pizza making and the very best of all… the one and only… Chai Tent – the hub for socializing, artistry, music, games and just chilling out.
Tomas, the Chai master, is a young, gentle man who oozes the sweetness of his very own special recipe. When asked about his secret, he simply says, “meditation.”
“Oh so you meditate before you make it?”
“No. Not before. I meditate while I make it.”
He simply replies while chopping fresh ginger root for today’s morning brew. His concoction is strictly herbal blended with hafer milch (oat milk) and raw sugar.
It’s a tantalizing spicy with the perfect amount of sweet. He keeps it hot and fresh throughout the day and well into the night where it’s the perfect cuppa (or maybe 4 or 5 ?) for Germany’s cool, rainy climate. One could easily spend hours (and many do) in Tomas’ Chai tent sipping, watching and interacting without leaving and be perfectly content with his/her festival experience.
A large part of La Libertad is about collaboration. The days prior to its weekend are spent building structures, making signs, decorating the tents and structures, making pathways and helping out in the kitchen.
My mom, Jennifer, is an amazing artist. She fell right into her niche as word got around that an American artist was on the premises. It is Friday about mid morning when one of the community members, Anna, approaches her about painting a symbolic tapestry of the community that they wanted hung for the weekend festivities. Their former artists had bailed on the job and so they were in a jam.
My mom, happy to do it, but feeling a bit uneasy about the time crunch, of course, decides to summon me for help. In turn, I call upon my friend’s independent and very outgoing 12 year old daughter, Magi, for more help. Magi agrees, but after hearing about the time issue, simply says, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to get some kids.” She’s off leaving us thinking she just got her own ticket out this. However, about 10 minutes later and loyal to her word, she shows up with her promised group of kids. All of them ready and willing to play in the paint.
After a while, word was out about the “Santa’s lil workshop” sight happening inside the castle walls. The room began buzzing with a constant flow of admiring onlookers, parents snapping photos and more kids wanting to help.
Magi had come through for us and with her help and all the kids, we magically finished in time to have the tapestry showcased as planned on Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, Anna and her fellow schloss-mates were very grateful.
As all good things must come to an end, I awake upon La Libertad’s final day and decide to take one last walk around. I see a different picture and feel a different vibe altogether, than what I witnessed just a week before. We’ve all experienced this at some point or another. The morning after a great party. The last day of school and then summer camp. Truly, the final day of anything that’s made an impact.
There’s that serene calm and quiet. No matter how relaxing the time had been, everyone and everything seems to be moving at a much slower pace than the previous days. It is just like this – No music. The fire is low. Chai tent is practically empty. You can hear people’s individual coughs and sneezes. Even the kitchen quit. They just put up a sign with leftovers set out that implied, “we’re done.” There is nothing like this cool, quiet, calm that so kindly states the obvious – party’s over, so…clean up, pack up and go home. Till next time…