An Unlikely Pilgrim
Lebensgeschichten, or Life Stories
I like to think Ray would be happy to see people reading his story. "His story" is something of a misnomer—for all his inner reflecting, Ray was most interested in connecting with others. Scattered throughout his journals are sketches of people he encountered, especially during his time at the Bruderhof, where a long tradition of sharing "Lebensgeschicten," or life stories, reigned during meal time. More informally, the afternoon tea-break was a time to meet and talk among the many people living in our village at Primavera. And of course everyone worked, giving us a close connection to others in whichever of the many "departments" we were assigned.
Peel the covers back from anyone's life and you'll find, as Mark Twain famously said, a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy. That's as true now as ever. But in this intentional community just after World War II, with a new "Lebensgeschichte" recounted night after night, the shared stories were a source of intense interest for Ray. From Teresa Hsu Chih, later known as Singapore's Mother Teresa, to a trio of Harvard drop-out pacifists, the Bruderhof attracted fascinating people.
Here Ray talks about fellow resident Leslie Holland:
He tried to break out of London life and its competition—he wanted to be a nature boy and let his hair and beard grow....He visited Frankfurt in 1938 and witnessed fights and the imprisonment of Jewish males, and his girl friend, an Austrian, was threatened with internment....On their honeymoon, they walked to the Cotswold Bruderhof and finally joined there. I want to hear of his "daily struggle" and difficulties in the Society of Brothers."
The tradition of sharing stories continues in communities around the world. As a way of fostering a sense of connection and inclusion. Thankfully, today we can do that even when we're not breaking bread together or hauling mandioca with a horse-drawn wagon (one of my jobs at the Bruderhof).
A life lived in community—"In the world but not of the world"—isn't the only way of forging bonds. I'd like to offer this site as a place for you to share your own life stories. A safe place where we can come together and share our journeys. Seeking together.
More about Ed
As a teenager, Ed Sabin moved with his family to the Bruderhof in Paraguay, a Christian society of liberal-minded thinkers intent on living a life of true community. Since then he has traversed Northern Africa on a Puch motorbike, lived on a Missouri commune, crewed a sailboat from California to Mexico, fought world hunger in D.C., and, most recently, lived five months in Malawi. Today, Ed, a retired sociologist, can be found closer to home pursuing his passions for boating and doing his small bit to fight social injustice. He lives with his wife, Robbie, in Pasadena, Maryland.