My experience of dwelling peacefully at-home on the Living Earth challenged everything I had ever been taught about the relationship between sensuality, sexuality, intimacy and wholeness. To understand my own upbringing, I spent decades trying to grasp the character of the collective/communal vision which molded my life. A great part of Earthfolk's Pathway B— Seer reflects my intellectual and academic search for understanding. In a very, very abbreviated statement, I found that in the Abrahamic Genesis there is no intimacy. The rather bizarre story of Eve being formed from Adam’s rib led me to grasp that the Biblical tradition’s message is that “the male body is the birthing body.” Wow!
For some men this was a spectacularly positive message because it meant that they did not have to pay any attention to women, goddesses or feminine ways. They heard that the feminine is NOT a way to spiritual fulfillment. They heard that there was no such thing as a sacred sexuality (since there was no sexual mating in Genesis either by gods and goddesses or men and women). Moreover, as I lived out this spiritual tradition in my youth, especially during my years in the seminary and monastery, the message was clear that the “body”— meaning sensuality—was only a way to sin and spiritual death, not to spiritual or personal fulfillment. So, How could anyone who lived by Biblical values ever behold another person as precious and as a Beloved? They simply could not. In fact, Genesis is the original story whose message is that there is a War between the Sexes, because when the angry god asked the male how he got to know his sexuality (and we can infer his sensuality) he said, “The woman made me do it!” (Stone cold coward this Adam guy.) Eve was the first Intimate Enemy. (See, "A vision of coupled presence.")
Anyway, while walking the Yard inside prison, I often reflected on, “Why is the government (and the Church) afraid of me?” So afraid that they indicted me as a saboteur and gave me the maximum sentence of five years? I had destroyed draft files—pieces of paper. And this was my first offense? Something was going on that I wasn’t aware of. (The local archbishop also forbade pastors from inviting me to preach since I was a “criminal.”) See, "Minnesota 8"
Briefly, my nonviolent activism and Resistance (to the Vietnam War) was saying on the symbolic and metaphorical level that “I am trying not to be a violent man!” At least that I was seeking to be nonviolent and would not affirm through honoring the Draft that I would kill for the State or the Church. I was also saying, “I will not call anyone my Intimate Enemy.” And, possibly even more threateningly, I was saying, “I want to Mother. I want to embrace the Other. I want to honor the preciousness of all people.” Such motherly, feminine, and Goddess ways was being spoken by a six-foot three, two-twenty-five pound, athletic guy. Ha. They wanted me to be a wimp, or gay (“fag” was the word back then)...so lock him up!
The phrase “sensual preciousness” emerged to counter the Biblical, non-sensual, non-preciousness of Genesis. It is a phrase that honors the Mother and feminine ways, that finds the feminine as a pathway to wholeness and preciousness. It does so by talking about the “nurturing embrace” and “respectful intimacy.” And radically unlike Genesis, once Earth Mother was sensed—after seeing the photo, Earthrise, taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts back in 1968—so was Earth Father. It is an integral part of the Earthfolk vision that we were awakened to the parenting presence of the Living Earth. We found ourselves nurtured by the Living Earth Mother and Father as a Forever Family. (Everyone is a child. Everyone can and usually does parent, even if not biologically. The family endures through time as we individuals pass. The family is forever.) See, "Outlaw Theology."
All this began to slowly dawn upon me as I recalled listening to the deep stories (what some call “sad stories”) inside prison. In federal prison I watched President Nixon's Attorney General get indicted. The "Watergate Affair" dramatically and rapidly shifted governmental attitude towars war resisters, and I was paroled—much to my amazement—after serving fourteen months Inside. After prison I married and in another totally unexpected shift ended up in corporate America as a successful senior sales manager. Soon, it was the late 1980s and radical movements were stirring in quiet ways. Humorously, I was dressed daily in a three piece suit with wingtip shoes while all this was happening to me! Ha. I learned that even corporate dress and all the weirdness of suburban life secrets many an Earthfolk seedling.
You can now begin to grasp why I state that, for “dwelling peacefully and comfortably at-home on the Living Earth” to blossom, I need your answer to, “Are you my Beloved?” I need your answer because I have come to learn that I am only whole when you behold me. Against the popular vision which fosters an extreme notion of rugged individualism and a “go it alone” mentality, Earthfolk state that “I” am only whole when you cherish me. I am not fully me if I am not your Beloved. You are not fully you unless you are my Beloved. Dwelling peacefully and comfortably at-home on the Living Earth is an invitation for you to examine your own journey and determine how you will answer this question.
I fully grasp how difficult and treacherous this invitation is. I realize the harsh fact because I am a survivor. A survivor of a millennial old war whose vision and imagination are grounded in simple stories but ones which have such deep roots in my, your, and Society’s mind and imagination such that for me to ask you to interpret them as Earthfolk do is to ask you to put your body, mind, and soul in harm’s way.
I have asked, “Are you my Beloved?” at various junctures of my life, and have suffered for simply asking the question. In this light in 1972, I was sent “Inside,” into society’s House of Terror, into a world of darkness, of pain and suffering, into a caged world. They told me that I was no longer Francis X. Kroncke, rather, I was (and remain) 8867- 147.
I have to be brutally honest and tell you that just asking this question can have dire consequences. You will inevitably confront the darker side of your own mind and soul, as you will that of society’s and your spiritual tradition(s). As I did, you might even wake up one morning and realize that you are an outlaw or a heretic, someone no longer acceptable to everyday society. Yet, you also might realize, as I did, your own sensual preciousness as you hear that you are Beloved.
In most spiritual traditions there is a discussion of the “positive way” (via positiva) and the “negative way” (via negativa). The former is known to most. It is the celebratory aspect of spiritual insight, e.g., when one is moved to ecstasy by a sunrise or at the baptism of an infant innocent. The latter is not as well known. The “negative way” is often called “The Dark Night of the Soul.” I first found traces of Earthfolk realities during my stay in prison.
The Earthfolk call is often heard in moments of soulful darkness. While I refer to prison as my Dark Night, you might be called to explore other soulful places and experiences. When I was released from prison and first spoke in public, I was almost always approached by someone who confirmed the character of my Dark Night by referring to a stay in a mental institution or through recalling a battleground experience or discussing the descent into a liquid or purple haze hell of booze and addiction. The lesson I want to share with you from all this is that if you don’t “own your Shadow” or your Dark Night, then it will own you. One of the early insights the Earthfolk vision provided was that the dominant warring spirituality (the biblical Abrahamic) is one which denies its Dark Side. This is a critical insight.
Why is this question, “Are you my Beloved?” so dangerous? You are probably saying to yourself, “This guy had to do something other than ask this simple question to get thrown in jail. What did he really do?” The historical answer is that I raided Selective Service draft boards with seven other men. This is a group the press called the “Minnesota 8.” Although I considered it an act of nonviolence, that is, one form of civil disobedience, I was convicted of a crime of violence. This is significant because it underscores that to ask, “Are you my Beloved?” will be taken as an act of violence.