Living Waters was started by a dead man. That was me in the 60’s; filled with
myself and fueled by ego and the parade of life that was going on at that time.
I was very deceived, but in a searching kind of way. At that time my vision was to travel, and see and absorb from what I could learn. I wasn’t directly on route to India for enlightenment, but that’s what it was close to. I wanted more than the instant drug form of light. Starting from S.F. via New Zealand, Australia, Portuguese Timor and finally to the island of Bali was as far as I got. It was there on the middle of that island in a small mountain town that the land vision had started.
On this journey I was devoted to the practice of meditation. I didn’t want the fake assistance of drugs and alcohol; yet at times I would yield to that familiar place. I was in this mountain town staying at a little inn. That night it was cold, but I felt to go outside and find a quiet spot. I remember the view; the vista was very awesome. It was during this sitting that I felt an almost foreign question arise within me. “What would you really like to do”? To this day I believe God came through even to me who gave Him no place. A strong impressing came quickly. “ I would like to live together with my close friends somewhere in remote Redwood country. This thought would not leave me. I’m a very goal oriented person and prior to this I had strongly envisioned traveling for years. Then again I could not shake this new dream thought.
In leaving Bali I headed to Singapore and it was there I decided to follow the scent of this vision. I returned home. The next season that followed was spreading the “back to the land” vision. I shortly found a handful of others who also heard the beat of this vision. Some were old friends and some new. Amazing how easy such explorations are when no one had children, in fact, I only remember one married couple.
I had a Volks bus and traveled all over northern Calif. looking at property. It seemed like months, but it may have been weeks before I found a piece of land that the locals called Gopherville. Once there was a lumber mill on the land and one
of those cone shaped burners that you often see at the old mill sites. The skeleton remains of that plus dozens of old cars were strewn all over the property. It took months cleaning it up. The best part was that it was isolated, had a creek (the Matole river) ran through the land. It also had six old logging cabins just sitting on the property. The distance was workable. It was only 30 plus minutes to Hyw. 101 and Garberville, Calif. The property was in northern Mendocino county I believe it was 1968 when the move took place.
If it were not for the trust and generosity of my dad this never could have
happened. I believe it was 80 Acres for 20K. Even real estate in the
sticks seemed to be a pretty safe investment and he felt secure enough
to loan his errant son the capitol. Soon a combo of singles and couples
moved to Gopherville. For most of us it was a first for the country life and
a cabin instead of an apt. or room, and wood stoves for heat and springs
for water. I will never forget the thrill of it all; being with friends in the
country and in old cabins. Fields and hills, a creek to swim in and giant
redwood trees in the background. The brave new world vision had started!
We would show the world how to live together in love and harmony.
Before the death ship arrived there was
the creative grace of youth, adventure
and hope with an almost precious naive
faith. The land was beautifully cleaned,
cabin restored, garden growing, a blacksmith shop, animals raised and babies born,
books were written and art was everywhere. Neighbors were mostly friendly and some of the parties were true out of sight classics. On the other side of the coin it took about two years for us to begin to admit that this new world was filled with ourselves. What’s that expression? “Wherever you go there you are.” We had no absolutes other than pure subjectivity with a dash of the east. Some almost died on drugs, meanwhile everyone was dying from the more vicious and subtle drug of witless selfishness. I would guess that the bottom started showing up around 1970. As God would have it His mercy prevailed upon us.
I clearly remember three pictures of His great Hand upon us potential sheep. There was a buzz going around about Jesus. Of course when we heard this familiar name we knew that surely wasn’t the way, nevertheless “something” was happening, but we didn’t know what it was. One – the first picture was a guy knocking on our door. No one knew who he was. He looked like us, but had more light. Said he was a fisherman and he just caught a miracle catch and wanted to share it with us. We were expecting a cooler of fish, but instead it was his story of meeting Jesus. He was very real sort of guy and we listened. This strange visitor was stored in our God memory banks. Two – This scene happened on a day where everyone was working on different parts of the land. Later we said we had all heard this very odd sound. Later we all independently stopped what we were doing to find the source of this sound. It was the strangest thing; one I’d had never heard before. On a dirt road that went through the middle of the property we had logs laid out along the roadside. Sitting on one of those logs were three men singing; singing real loud. They sang these old songs that none of us had ever heard before. It was so strange that we all heard this and all traced it down; soon to arrive there all together. What a scene! It was nothing seeing crowd of naked people playing drums by the swim hole, but smiling men singing was the first of many new sights we would see. The church had come to us.
The final picture was being in San Francisco on a food run and visiting an
old poet friend. Bruce had been writing for years and finally got his first book
published! I wanted to congratulate him. On that visit he radically surprised
me with his confession of now being a born again Christian. He surprised us
even more by telling how he had gotten rid of all his newly published books.
Said he had burned them. This was like hearing him speak Egyptian. Turns
out that we futilely discussed this into the wee hours. Just before crashing
for the night his wife Melitia suggested that I ask Jesus the same question
I was asking Bruce. Before going to sleep that night I recalled how I had
always said I really wanted the truth and I, by God’s grace, noticed how I
could not ask this Jesus the question she suggested. I felt like a hypocrite
because if He really was the truth then I’d have to be a Christian. That
thought was unacceptable; then again do I really want the truth. I was
stunned by my duplicity. I felt ashamed of my inner response and forced
out a meager prayer; something along the lines of: “if you’re real show me.” Then I went to sleep.
It was on the drive back up north that I knew something very real had taken place. My mind was having thoughts such as I had never had before. Something happened! God, the real God, was knocking on my door! It was very weird. The feeling, thoughts and a new sense of things didn’t end, but grew. The rest of the community was very shaken. It was a tough year. We tried to continue to all flow together, but it didn’t work. Jane was among those angry at me. After a big fight she left for a Hawaii where she too had a Jesus encounter. Wow these places we had to go to meet God. Not bad! She soon returned. In that year 1971 we had met the family from Eureka and the Lighthouse Ranch. As we moved closer to them and moved closer to the embracing of God grace, love and forgiveness many of our original family left. Gopherville was changed to “Living Waters!” We transitioned into a Christian ranch community. and lived happily ever after – Ha Ha
Now almost 40 years later, I look back with great thanksgiving for what God did for us. What started then was and is a touch of the eternal in the today. The community dream is still a growing ember our hearts, but its form is such that I could have never imagined. Eighty acres is now a world. Relationships are spread everywhere. Pain is still as prevalent as ever but hope and vision keep us alive. I could have never imagined the depth that God is after. I fail more than I like to admit, but His grace is sufficient! Today is July 2008.
Tony and Jane Tuck