The following summer, 2011, I found one of these ancestral estates or ecological settlements just across the Karelian border and we decided to go and check it out. However, I felt duplicitous, since I was not totally (if at all) into the Anastasian way of life and not totally (if at all) into community living and felt I was taking advantage of the situation to get a plot of land because it seemed so cheap. Ivan was definitely not into the philosophical aspect of it either and in fact knew very little about the movement and the Ringing Cedars, but he was willing to go with me to investigate, willing to put all prejudices or skepticism aside. His desire to travel and explore new places was stronger.
However, not far from the Karelian border and with several more hours of driving to go before we would arrive at the ecocommunity, we reached a village on the shores of Lake Onega with an old Russian Orthodox church that caught our attention and beckoned to us.
We decided to turn off the main road and take a closer look. Ivan liked to photograph old churches and this was one of those exquisite wooden ones built without using a single nail, the cupolas reminiscent of an armadillo’s hide or fish skin, with its scales lying perfectly one upon the other to form a water-tight shield, inspiringly beautiful in its intrinsic grace and harmony.
After photographing the church, we went on down to the shores of the lake, a magnificently extensive lake, its waters stretching forward to the horizon and to either side as far as the eye could see. There was a pristinely beautiful sandy beach stretching far along the shore, wider in some places than in others, with an ancient forest hugging it from behind. I was in awe of its primordial beauty, although there was also a barrier, something that prevented me from feeling that I had come home. However, Ivan surprised me by saying, “I could live here.” My thoughts had not gone as far as contemplating actually living here, there was still something that repelled me, something cold and unwelcoming. But upon hearing Ivan’s words, I immediately brushed these thoughts aside. I so wanted to see the possibilities of building a life here, of having a house, of calling it home, especially if Ivan was in favor.
Now I realize I was operating from my surface mind. I could not hear, or did not want to hear, what was coming from my deeper mind, my True Self. I had not developed the necessary refinement of listening and discernment (Steps to Knowledge: Step 16: Beyond My Mind is Knowledge) and did not want to hear the truth (Step 17: Today I Want to Hear the Truth), since it did not fit in with my plans and goals.