Peace, love and blackberries (the fruit kind)

29 08 2009

My parents were hippies. Probably not full blown hippies, but kaftans and jesus sandals WERE worn, and unkempt hair and beards were all the rage. Chuck an embroidered headband on, no problem!

I have a distinct memory of my dad wearing a shirt with butterflys all over it. I loved that shirt!

The 60’s was a time of revolution, lucky us! born into an era where everything in history was being questioned and rebelled against. New paths were trodden and we, the boomer kids, were dragged along for the ride.  Love was preached by day, and belts were pulled out at night for wayward love children. No revolution in our house, just plain ole stand over tactics. Double lives are confusing!

Our house was always full of strange people, as my parents made it their life work to save peoples souls. We went to a church called the ‘Jesus Light and Power House’, and was the home and base of the God Squad, a biker group with a mission to help the lost and homeless, some of which ended up living in our home.

Their hearts were in the right place those fellas, but they often left families at home, dadless, as they rode on long bike runs, hanging out with outlaw bikers, and earning patches and shit like that that I never really understood.

Meanwhile back at the church, when the sermons were on, us kids were out blackberry picking, and roaming the fields, larking around. Kids were frowned upon joining their parents in the small, packed orange house, except for the babies of course.

The congregation was a bunch of people sitting cross legged on the floor as John Smith preached the Word. Women breastfed, men put their arms around their wives, babies were handed around, sharing the load. There was a lot of love in that place, bizarre people, the fashion, the ‘hey man groovy’ speak. It all seemed quite normal at the time.

shiny happy people

shiny happy people

Sometimes I would listen when they put the loud speakers out the front because the house wouldn’t hold any more people. But mostly I would people watch, it was the start of a long love affair with studying people.

One woman was so charasmatic, she would shout out praises to the Lord and would mumble and sing to herself as she poured over her bible. I would look around to see if anyone was embarassed by her, but no one was, they just keep right on listening. It was disconcerting to me. Now looking back, I feel certain she was tripping or mentally ill or both, something just wasn’t right about her, and I knew it. I could FEEL it.

Finally one year, they started a ‘sunday school’  which was basically a room with tables and chairs, and lots of art stuff.  I went in there when it rained, otherwise, I was climbing trees and visiting horses, and of course, stuffing my face with blackberries. No sprays were used back then, straight in the gob, saving a little for the family. Coming home smelling of horse with stained hands & crushes on boys, all in the life of a temporarily free spirit.

I don’t know the purpose of recounting this story, I just know that Woodstock has triggered a lot of seventies memories for me. I know friends who have lived in ‘hippy’ communities, some of which I visited with my family. We are a long way away from this simple life here in the suburbs. I left a part of me back there, it calls out to me still.





13 responses

29 08 2009
Richard Reeve

With your written memory, you have retrieved a bit that was left behind.

29 08 2009

perhaps i have Richard, it seems that life was simpler then. this ‘blur on pause’ got a little shaky in the writing of it because it was such a long time ago. btw the bearded guy on the very right is my dad, its the best photo i have of him, he was happy then.

29 08 2009

Lovely memories recalled from an era, now lost, it can only ever happen one time. You were lucky enough to know what it was like, and what that BlueBerry Tasted Like! Yum! Loves yah lil’s beautiful sentimental piece. ~ xx

29 08 2009

yes fresh from the sentimental pot, i blame Woodstock, all those free dancers, reminded me of the parties my folks would have, we the love children, just stood around amazed!! no nudity THANK GOD lol

1 09 2009
Pat Mishler

what an interesting life you must have. I can’t wait to hear more. I was on the tale end of the hippie days. It did surround me, but somehow I didn’t get involved. Could have my ‘parochial’ upbringing. I hope to hear more about your life. Everyone’s life has a story to share. You just never know when something you say will impact a person in just the way they need it.

3 09 2009


This is true what you say, many times i have read something just at the right time that i needed to hear it. Maybe like ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ It’s funny, people don’t think their stories are interesting to others, but i’m always fascinated hearing how others have lived their life, or are presently living it. I share mine for the sake of sharing, to connect with the world, hopeful i can somewhat entertain, maybe even inspire. maybe even a little selfish on my part with need to connect with my own life, piece together the puzzle a little. I am appreciative there are others that want to walk down this road with me. Bless you Pat.

8 09 2009
Robin Easton

I LOVED reading this memory of a powerful, innocent, and not innocent (Viet Nam), and raw, passionate, freedom based time of history. The music and clothing and hair and all of it was unlike any other time of history. It is so wonderful to read your poignant memories of it. You have lived a fascinating life and seem to have fantastic recall. It shows how much of that time went into your soul. You don’t even need to know why you recall it or share it, you simply do and it parts of this moved me to tears it is powerful. Even today people want to feel something REAL. You gave us that. Thank you. Robin

8 09 2009

Hi Robin, thanks for stopping by, & feeling the groove of the move-ment. Feels just like yesterday i was filling up on those blackberries, coming home with scratches on my arm (the best & juiciest ones required some sacrifice). It delights me to know you FELT my words, thanks so much for your kindness. See you out there in twitterville, bless!

8 09 2009


The rational mind asks why, while your all-knowing soul nudges its stories to be told. And what you shared is beautiful, absolutely beautiful~!

It gave a glimpse of the simple thrills of your vicarious past. Probably for you to reconnect to that past? And probably for us to engage our imagination so we could take the trip with you? Whatever propelled the writing, I am so happy that it was told, for only thru it can we become closer participants in the current dance of life.

I love how you depicted the church scene & congregation members spreading & sharing the love at the time. Contrast that with today’s scene where people sit so close to each other yet nary a word to one another, before or after services. Each is too busy with his life and church is there to absolve one’s accumulated sins for the week. Why would I care about the person next to me? I have my own worries, my own sins and I only have this half hour at church to cleanse it. And yes, I need to drop by the store, and fix lunch and oh yes, I need to check my emails and tweets… Oh darn, I forgot to charge my Blackberry. Oopps, now I’m lost, I feel totally disconnected…

Oh how times have changed… Blackberries were only edible at that time. Now they are also devices we cannot live without.

Probably future generations will look at these times and our current normalcy will be the stuff of their future musings. Except perhaps at the time, they will be out there on the moon, writing about this generation’s earthlings and our “weirdness.”

And so it is.

Thanks for sharing, Lily. I love getting a glimpse of your past.

-Angie (

10 09 2009

Hi Angie,

Delighted to read you here my friend. You hit on a point, about community. I feel a deep sorrow that community and families have disintegrated in modern society. I took it for granted then that our family, as dysfunctional as it was, would always be together and have love around us with the people of the church, our community. Its a story long ago in another lifetime now. Everyone seems ‘too busy’ to catch up, and when they do, it’s a quick email or tweet, such little engagement, no fostering of an environment for relationship. I am guilty of this too, and i am aiming to re-acquaint myself with the artistry of letter writing, dinners and long chats, and learning how to be a good friend and mother. My biggest pleasure, and as yet to arrive, will be as i have envisaged for so long now, a sense of family and community, parties, BBQ’s, dancing, singing, art days, garden days, cooking days, days where cherished memories are woven into a blanket for the future. I hold onto this dream forever, and a day. Many blessings to you Angie in this new Season of our lives. 🙂

11 09 2009

There are such communities here in CA (and I presume also in other states). They are called “intentional communities” where families who share a common vision live together in the community. They may have separate housing quarters but they are bound by common activities. For instance not too far from where I live, there is an ecovillage, so the common theme is around “green” revolution.

Then there are the spiritually-inspired communities.

I’m thinking this might be the solution to my desire for a better community. But I have not decided on it yet. I really long for closer ties, more personal communication amongst people, other than emails, phone calls, voice mails & tweeting.

Probably I’m just nostalgic for the simpler times. I love handwriting letters, when I want someone to feel the depth of my regard for him/her. Letter writing is so passe that no one expects it anymore. So I do the opposite & surprise them. I find people are pleasantly surprised & delighted to receive handwritten notes now. I reserve them as a special treat for special occasions.

Warm Regards,

3 10 2010

Lily, thank you for telling your experience of that time. It brings me back to my own brief time with the Jesus Light and Powerhouse community in the mid 1970s. In the photo I can recognise two of the leaders ,John Smith on the front left and Mike in the front centre. I think I remember seeing your dad but didn’t know him.

I really needed that community at that stage of my Christian growth. They did much valuable work with many who could not or would not fit anywhere else. At the time I may even have freaked out some people there in different ways from the “charismatic” lady you described, but they were oh so loving and patient with me and yet firm when necessary.

John Smith’s Bible teaching every Monday night about the Early Church (Acts) – how the people of “The Way” of Jesus had put their resources in together – was inpirational to me. John Smith preached about the importance of taking social justice and the needs of the outsiders seriously. The radical ways of Jesus and the early church were actually being lived in a caring community which I remember fondly despite their otherwise rather orthodox theology.

John Smith is still on the internet with God’s Squad and I visited Jesus Light and Power House a year or so ago and wow, they have really built something with their own hands, moved by the love of God.

By the way, the date of your article is the fiftieth birthday of my American wife Liz who, right NOW as I write, is visiting in California where her mom lives.

Lily, I hope and pray you can recreate some of the good things of that community in you life today. Thanks again for your wonderful reflections.

19 12 2010

Hi Jan, apologies for the late reply, life and it’s detours, you know. Thanks for sharing your own experience of the light and power house. I was there between 8 and 12 years old, definitely have a child’s interpretation of my memories with my family there. The little girl inside felt brushed away as the big people gathered in their big people circles. Though I do have a great memory of a church holiday, where about 50 people, adults and kids, went MUD SWIMMING! There were pictures, though sadly now lost. Yes then we wore leather toe sandals, these days I wear a gold cross.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: