If They Dream It, It Will Come

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If They Dream It, It Will Come

By Joanna Lucas, Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
March 2013

If, at all other times, the residents' focus, attention and activity is divided by interests, groups, friendships, rivalries, etc, on Sunday morning, everyone comes together in the work of waiting, wishing, wanting, and almost tasting the luscious treat to come, as if the sheer force of their collective yearning could summon it into existence.

Peaceful Prairie dream it produce feast

It's Sunday morning and the entire Sanctuary is abuzz with silent expectation. The produce truck is due to arrive, and that electrifying moment when it drives through the Sanctuary gates, parks in the open filed, and begins to spill its edible delights in a tumbling riot of scents, textures, colors and tastes, is anticipated with barely contained enthusiasm.

If, at all other times, the residents' focus, attention and activity is divided by interests, groups, friendships, rivalries, etc, on Sunday morning, everyone comes together in the work of waiting, wishing, wanting, and almost tasting the luscious treat to come, as if the sheer force of their collective yearning could summon it into existence.

Peaceful Prairie dream it produce feast

The goats pace up and down the fence that runs along the road, craning their necks, listening to faraway sounds, gazing intently into the distance, the cows gather in silent vigil at the end of the driveway, and the younger pigs and sheep camp out in the middle of the "feast" area (known as "dirt" on any other day of the week, and treated as such), while the elderly pigs and sheep keep an eager eye on the road from the comfort of their barns.

The geese and ducks steer their families to the feast area, advancing as families do, in spurts and sputters, starts and stops, delays and detours, allowing ample time for the speed and quirks or each member. The chickens alternate between wistfully scanning the horizon and vigorously pecking the ground where the treats will soon be spilled, as if calling them forth from dry dirt, while the turkeys circle the area like giant terrestrial hawks, alert to every sound, and already giving visual expression to the festive occasion with their dazzling celebration gear.

Peaceful Prairie dream it produce feast

The llamas huddle in a tight hug at the far end of the driveway, leaning their collective person against the gate—23 hearts and minds feeling and thinking as one, 46 ears swiveling in perfect sync, 92 feet tapping in perfect unison—looking so wraith-like on the stilts of their legs, yet so solidly grounded in that spot by the shared anticipation, and yearning, and dreaming of the good thing to come.

Peaceful Prairie dream it produce feast

And then it happens! The moment they've all been waiting for. The produce truck comes barreling down the road, the Sanctuary gates open, the truck drives through, and the animals stampede towards it, swarming and greeting it with such enthusiasm that you can almost hear them cheer. They flock around the back of the truck, pacing in place, sniffing the air, closing their eyes the better to savor the intoxicating scents, and voicing their joy in every language spoken at the sanctuary—from chicken, duck, goose, turkey, peahen, cow, pig, goat, sheep, and llama, to the occasional phrase of cat, human, mouse and sparrow—chanting their anticipation and their hunger for the good thing that the Sunday feast promises, delivers and represents in their lives.

When the feast finally begins in earnest, a dense silence descends on the sanctuary. For the first few minutes, all you hear is the steady rhythm of chewing and swallowing punctuated by the occasional grunt of appreciation or foot-tap of delight. There's so much to enjoy, so many pleasures and treasures to relish, so many new tastes to sample, and so many familiar tastes to greet, so many new combinations of old and new delights to savor, that five senses aren't enough to take all this bounty in. Sometimes it becomes necessary to touch the taste of strawberries with your entire body, rolling in them like Lucas, or to hear the taste of bananas, like Pierre, who relishes the popping sound of their skins cracking open.

But, as intense as the pleasure of eating is, it isn't what makes the Sunday feast so unique or so eagerly anticipated. Delicious food is available in constant supply at the Sanctuary, and savory treats are freely dispensed every day. What brings the refugees together with such urgency is more than the pleasure of eating, considerable though it may be. The Sunday feast satisfies more than a taste, it seems to fulfill a craving for a certain feeling, a hunger for a shared experience that transcends sensory gratification.

Peaceful Prairie dream it produce feast

There's the enormous joy that fills everyone at that moment, and there's the amazing way in which joy can temporarily erase the myriad discords and frustrations of daily life, the way it can hush all the sad memories, losses, and traumas of their wounded past, the way it can obscure everything except joy itself. But, as exquisite as the joy that fills everyone at that moment is, it probably isn't the sole motivator either.

What's unique about the Sunday feast is the irreplaceable fact of sharing this joy with the entire community, the radiant fact of amplifying this joy by feeling it together and, perhaps, most of all, the astonishing sense that they can create this joy together by the power of their collective will. And that may be the greatest gift of all.

Peaceful Prairie dream it produce feast

When they all get together in anticipation of the feast, when they all focus on the road (and its future gift), when they all wish for the exact same thing at the exact same time, they are no longer the mere recipients of goodness, they are the active makers of it. And what more powerful antidote is there to the profound disempowerment, the deep psychological fracturing and social fragmentation that they all suffered as objects of human consumption, than this massive coming together in the making and sharing of a communal joy so powerful that, for a moment, it seems to weave the broken threads of their lives back into a single cloth?