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I wrote the following as the introduction to a chapter in the book “The Spirit of Agriculture” published by George Ronald Ltd. In 2017 I became a participant in a course offered by the Wilmette Institute, an agency of the US National Spiritual Assembly. I decided to copy it to introduce my life in Guta.
Guta is the third time I bought and built a rural home. The first time in Starkville, Mississippi in 1980. Then near Kaluga, Russia in 1999. And finally in Guta in 2007, located in Boguslav Raion, or literally translated the region of “God’s Glory”. I wonder how it happened that I ended my life in a region with a name like Boguslav.
Some how it seems appropriate that I should start talking about Guta from the perpective of a fable describing a life on earth that doesn’t exist yet. But at the same time, the life described in the fable has a lot of similarity to the life that Svitlana and I created in Guta. Svitlana made it possible. In the fable there is a Baha’i community and a house of worship. In Guta there is a Baha’i inspired social action, a residential school, and communities of children living in the village from time to time. If it be God’s will, perhaps the activities in Guta will year by year develop into the vision in the fable.
Reinventing the Village by Gary Reusche
Village Problems, Opportunities and Fundamental Needs
The morning light filters into the bedroom and slowly awakens the occupants. That night an owl had landed on the roof, not far from the bedroom window, its shrill cry startling the sleepers and interrupting their night’s rest. It’s time to get up and move slowly and peacefully in and out of the bathroom for the morning rituals and ablutions before walking the half kilometer to the Village House of Worship and the community prayer meeting and morning meditation. The air, as always, is fresh, now that internal combustion engines have been restricted. Even so, one is glad that in the morning they are not in use at all – even one of these engines produces a disagreeable smell and an artificial noise that spoils the beauty of God’s nature and the expression of His perfections. This natural beauty resonates with the human soul; sometimes uplifting music or focused meditation has the same effect. Approaching the House of Worship, groups of people become visible, most quiet and meditative, but some quietly commenting on an event or thought with a loved one. Finally the villagers enter the assembly hall, quietly sit and prepare themselves for the dawn prayers. After breakfast it’s time to take care of the greenhouse, gardens and animals. First the fuel cell, the source of all the needed power, has to be checked. Its only byproduct is pure water, not noxious fumes. These tasks, mundane and manual, yet health-giving and satisfying, are difficult. The body works hard, lifting, moving, carrying. And veterinary services are needed today. Everybody these days has healthcare skills and practices health maintenance as the first defense against all disease – for animals no less than people. In the village all are trained in a variety of life skills because there is always some problem that creeps up and has to be dealt with, gently. When one does the morning work, it fulfills most requirements for food and exercise and provides some income for the family. Strange that even in this far northern clime, God has provided everything needed to prosper. And health problems are rare because of the exercise, the clean environment, the close association with the wonders of the world of nature and the lack of excessive stress. After lunch, it’s time to turn on the computer and research technologies related to the new small enterprise that looks promising for the village. New research has been done in Madya Pradesh. Using the ever-developing Internet, one can telecommute to work. The Internet is now accessible with practically unlimited speed by satellite links and radio nets from any remote farm, thereby connecting the rural inhabitants into a system of communication and information undreamed of until recently. The work accomplished by telecommuting is not only satisfying intellectually, it balances the more manual tasks of the morning and provides an additional source of revenue to pay for the modest requirements of the home, as well as the usual needs: health- care, saving for old age, money to contribute to the funds, music lessons or theatre tickets for the cultural centre located in the shadow of the House of Worship. By 3:00 p.m. the workday is complete. After a short rest, it is time to practice a new violin composition, then off to the practice session for the latest village musical. It’s amazing how creative people are when given the opportunity and the right environment. After dinner there is a meeting of the Village Store Foundation, an auxiliary institution of the House of Worship. This organization has acquired the trust of the villagers and the funds that flow to it are sometimes more than can be dispersed. Almost. There are so many difficulties in the village that need solutions, and although theoretically everyone can take care of themselves, in practice many families and individuals fall on hard times and turn to the foundation for help. Every case is different; each is individually considered in the light of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. And the systems assure that receiving help does not create dependence or humiliate those receiving it. (Published in The Spirit of Agriculture, George Ronald Publisher Ltd.)