Photo: Elsa Young
Thurs. 3:00 p.m.
We drop in on Kate and Maureen Groch, who run the learning center in the village where most Londolozi staffers, members of the Shangaan tribe, live and work. Kate and Mo, a mother-daughter team of brilliant educators who left other jobs to work in impoverished rural Africa, positively glow with purpose. Their work is part of the Vartys' overall program for healing ecosystems. Aided by computers and the Grochs, the villagers are creating ways to husband nature and thrive, rather than depleting it to survive.
"I was 60 when I decided to commit to this cause," says Maureen, known to the villagers as "Gogo Mo" (Gogo is a respectful Zulu term for "grandmother"). "You're never too old to start following your purpose."
"Never too late" is a good catchphrase for Power/Play Day. We describe to the STARlets how Londolozi is based on a passionate belief that it's not too late to heal nature in a way that includes humans and wilderness interacting in never-before-seen ways. We tell them how each of us—the Grochs, the coaches, the trackers, everyone—is pursuing our own personal purpose as joyfully as we can, and how, magically, all those journeys are interweaving to continue "restoring Eden."
"Start playing," I beseech the STARlets. "Find your joy and follow it. If enough humans do that, we may just create enough real power to save the world." It's a modest little goal, but I like it.
Fri. 10:00 a.m.
After their final morning drive, the STARlets are dropped off at Londolozi's "intention circle." It's a round patch of sand scattered with crystals, encircled by strands of wire that rise in the shape of two elephant tusks to form a gate 23 feet tall. The wire comes from fences that once cut off migratory routes, leading to the death of thousands of animals. The Vartys spent years working to get the fences removed so that nature could restore herself. Today, when you look between the wire tusks, you can see the elephant migration route that once again flows unimpeded to the distant mountains.
This place is dedicated to establishing intentions, and we ask each STARlet to think of one that might somehow heal a part of her life. It doesn't matter whether an intention is small or large. "We can't heal a broken world from a broken place within ourselves," Boyd tells the group. "But when we heal ourselves, even a little, the world heals, too."
Each guest picks up a crystal to take home, a little piece of Africa to replace the problem-pebbles they dropped earlier. They commit to a daily practice they'll use to remind themselves of what they learned here. The practice should be simple. My own is to silently contemplate nature every morning over a cup of coffee. Cassie says she'll play for at least half an hour each day, whether her soldier husband is home from war or not. Lucy will walk the beach by her home every morning, feeling for the "hot tracks" in her life.
It may sound flippant, or naive, or just plain crazy, but I mean it with all my heart: This is the way we save the world—one peaceful cup of coffee, one loving gesture, one gift to our true selves at a time.
At the airstrip, everyone gets a little weepy. Though I know we'll stay in touch, I can't imagine a lovelier group of people, and it's hard to believe that the next group of STARlets, due in just a few days, will invite as much enchantment as these brand-new old friends. Luckily, this bighearted place has magic enough for everyone.
Martha Beck's latest book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (Free Press), contains detailed instructions for doing STAR exercises at home.
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