I’ve been attending rites with Three Cranes Grove for about five years now, though I’ve only been in ADF for about a year. I had continually put off joining ADF and the Grove for so long ultimately because I was scared of my intransient state. I was a college student and shuttling between Cincinnati and Columbus, having no idea where I would ultimately end up, and not wanting to make connections with people who I was afraid I would then break away from and lose. It is a little ironic then that I finally decided to join ADF and Three Cranes near the end of my college career, when I knew for certain that I’d be leaving the Columbus area.
I had realized that ultimately the reason I was putting off kinship with like-minds and fighting a connection with the Kindreds was due to fear, and having put a face on the obstacle, I now knew what it was I needed to overcome. So I joined Three Cranes Grove and ADF and have since been working taking my relationship with my grove mates and the Kindreds one day at a time. I’m trying not to worry about losing those who I’ve grown close to, and each day I can put off that worry and just continue to tend my relationship makes me feel a bit closer and more secure that I actually won’t lose that connection.
The Dedicant Path appealed to me as soon as I learned of it, but I once again ran into similar troubles. I didn’t have the time to devote to getting it all done at once, and so didn’t feel as though I could start it due to fear I’d never finish, or would disappoint someone. Starting this path begins as I am, for the first time in my life, out of schooling and the scholarly world. I now have the time to complete the Dedicant Path, but the doubts of my own ability and dedication have only seemed to grow. Surprising however, as those doubts have grown so has a realization that I will run into obstacles as I walk this path. I have come to appreciate and am gradually accepting that those roadblocks are not necessarily obstacles to the path, but rather a part of the path itself.
I expect that this course of study is merely a step on my path as a spiritual being, but in itself I feel it is an important track for me to follow. It provides a structure for me to learn and grow. Just as a young sapling may need a stake to help guide and protect it in its early developmental stages, so do I find the Dedicant’s Path beneficial. However, within the same metaphor, every moment that a sapling is staked without need limits its movement and growth, depriving the tree of vitality and life. So while support is necessary at times, it becomes dangerous to rely on that support once it has served its purpose. I think this will become more important for me to keep in mind the further along this path I get. I fear I may become to dependent on meeting the requirements and following the exact structure of every suggestion to the letter, depriving myself of the organic nature of belief.
It is with this fear that I’ll lose myself in the requirements and the hope that I won’t that I am willing to admit I’m not sure what exactly I’ll learn by following this path. Sure I could rattle off the specifics I’ll learn about the virtues and the knowledge I’ll gain from reading books about the origins of Druidry and my Hearth Culture, but that doesn’t explain or predict how I’ll grow and change as I internalize and make these understandings my own. I would like to use the specific and fact based knowledge that I’ll gain to build an envisionment of my own personal practice. Simply taking the requirements will not provide much real understanding, and so I hope to take what I learn and apply it in a way that is meaningful to me, and in a way that I can pass down to future generations.
I do not know what direction this path will take me, but I do know it is one I must follow, however long it takes, and whatever obstacles appear in my way. It seems daunting right now when I look at it as a whole, but broken down into pieces it seems much more manageable. One of the hardest things will be balancing my desire to sidetrack and delve deeper into certain aspects and areas with a need to refocus on the bigger picture of the Dedicants Path and be sure I’m completing the requirements, specifically making sure that I’m not avoiding them out of fear.
The requirements that seem to the hardest right now are the meditation journal/essay due to the period of time it covers. I have a hard time setting and maintaining long-term goals, so it seems daunting to begin with. The other someone difficult sounding requirement will be the book reviews, partially because I’m not sure what is expected in the writing, and partially due simply to the amount and type of reading. The book on hearth cultures I’m not concerned with because I have specific interest to pull me along, but the other two required books will take some time to delve into, read and understand, and the process and write about.
The other requirements seem easier to me because they are of a more personal nature, relating to beliefs I have and will form, and experience or thoughts that I have. Writing personal narrative essays and creatively has always been easier for me to process and start than researched writing has been.