My final act before leaving was to interview the man himself.
“So what is Embercombe?” I asked Mac.
“Well it’s fifty acres of some of the most beautiful country in Devon.” said Mac. “We’ve been here since 1999. Our mission is ‘to inspire people to deepen as human beings and take courageous action for change in our world’.
“But basicly its trying to say, at this time in our history, now, we can’t stand on the sidelines and assume that everything’s going to be ok. That each one of us in our particular circumstances are called to stand forward and, in our own way, according to our gifts and the things we love, to take action and participate.”
“What sort of people come here?” I asked.
“We like to think anyone can benefit from coming here, if they can get through the door. It’s all ages that come here. It’s important that the very young are in a place that speaks about community, nature, being outdoors, where there’s woodsmoke and lovely food being grown. But also so the parents can feel supported. They can come together, learn from each other and assist and support each other. So it’s not quite such a lonely disjointed thinking.
“Primary and secondary schools come here, and then we have Catalyst for eighteen to twenty five year olds – young people who are right at the point of deciding what their life is going to be about.
“Then we have the Journey. The oldest person has been in their eighties. And again it’s saying to people: ‘What’s your choice? What is it that I deeply and profoundly love? What are my deepest and most profound gifts?’ Which is a question many people do not know the answer to. ‘What are my deepest and most profound responsibilities?’ When you answer those questions, of course you want to live that way.
“We have corporate groups that explore how could business be a force for transformation. Our economy, the global economy, it’s really clear to me that it doesn’t work, to serve the needs of everybody, or our earth. There are people all over the world I think that are trying to bring these things forward. And to my mind, they are all expressions of the same impulse.”
As I left Embercombe the wooden bench tables outside the dining yurt were covered in vegetables as a large group of people chopped and prepared them. I kept pausing looking at the steep green hills. The rain spent itself the day before and it was sunny and bright. Devon seemed so full of stunning landscapes and tiny valleys. The trees don’t have leaves properly yet, more of a vaguely greenish haze on their skeletons. But the bird song is excitedly thrilled. I don’t know what they are saying to each other about it but they’re very pleased about it.
I took a roundabout route after Embercombe and approaching a patch of wood I suddenly came upon a large shire horse in a harness. Russet brown with a long straight blonde mane and tail, and a blonde nose. There was a man adjusting the chain that was hanging from the back.
“Hello there! He’s lovely. What are you using him for?” I asked.