1-2-3 September 2017
Villasur de Herreros
There are so many angles from where we could describe what happened last weekend in Villasur de Herreros, a village near Burgos, in the place of the planet we now call Spain. And so many angels from where to describe it too :).
24 of us gathered with the intention of exploring what Re-love-ution means. What does it mean to live in a gift ecology? What is the service calling of our times? What are the forms of truth that want to emerge nowadays? What does the spirit of gift mean? What questions are we holding in our journey of service to others and inner transformation?
The retreat was a magical emergence which came to life through the generosity of many, so many… The house was gifted, the food was gifted, the decoration materials were gifted, all the gifted volunteers gifted their time! So much gifting happy-ning! David A. brought 20 bottles of fresh apple juice made with apples he harvested. He had made the juice himself with a hand-working machine… So much love in it… Roman, a local friend whose livelihood depends on his organic farm decided to offer all the vegetables for the retreat without accepting any money… We threatened him saying we know where he lives, but it didn’t work… Well, we still know where he lives ;). Chema, one of the participants decided to pay for all the decoration material, but do not worry, we also know where he lives… 🙂 I asked my parents, the house owners, should we pay for the water and energy expenses or so? They said no… And so and so… So much generosity in the air!!!
And so much beauty in the house as well!! Everyone brought his/her own gifts, main one being herself/himself :). We always tell participants they don’t really have to bring anything, it’s more than enough they come and share who they are. What an amazing gift is to share oneself deeply with others. And I feel this is one of the key learnings from these retreats: they are all so beautiful and regenerative because the main assets in them are people. All retreats are different because participants co-create them, and this makes it special every time.
Another one of the discoveries of these processes is that, the less technology around it the better. We try to simplify it, so people are the main protagonists of it. Technologies are simple, like circles, random acts of kindness, silence, listening, hugging… and well, one realizes all these are social technologies, but arts as well, and in true art, the skillfulness and the beauty of the artists are more defining than the technologies themselves.
We try to provide space for the richness of diversity, and that intention brings together people from different age, gender, social background and at a more subtle level also thought, life priorities, life experience…
This weekend people from the places in the planet we now call China, Vietnam, UK, France, Spain, Peru… from 17 year olds to 50+… From farmers, to yoga teachers, to facilitators, to business brothers, all of us opened a field for the emergence of the re-love-utions we want to see in the World.
First part of the retreat was dedicated to circles and sharings, and we had some few remarkable stories came up, like Lily’s one.
Lily is a hairdresser and Yoga teacher in training. She manages a saloon. She has been coming to Karma Kitchen and the local meditation circles, offering her beaming smile and energy. I keep going to her saloon and it’s a community center of sorts. One day I was there and in few minutes two people came with gifts for her, her mother and auntie came to say hello, and few friends came to cut their hair and express love. Recently I heard that to be rich in community, your door has to be knocked 16 times a day… I feel Lily’s saloon bits that mark. Another question we could hold is: what happens when you don’t have a door? ;).
Lily shared with us how, inspired by Karma Kitchen and the Circles, she decided to experiment more with giving. She had been randomly gifting her services at the saloon, but one good morning she decided she was going to host a whole “Karma Day”. She started gifting in the morning and then she told herself, why to stop here? She went on with the experiment in generosity and spent the whole day like that! She was reflecting how, everyone was having an amazing smile after her gifts, including her. And how people who received the gifts would come after that day and offer all kinds of gifts and gratitude and love to her, a different bond was created with them…
Smiles after receiving a gift at Lily’s
Another participant who touched us with his presence was Matthew. Matthew is a 17 year old brilliant man who has been volunteering with Manav Sadhna (MS) in India. Amazing the fact that he came all the way from París to explore these questions with us. His stay at the Gandhi Ashram in India was a very special experience for him. He shared few words about all of it with us. He loved the community atmosphere, the sense of non-judgment, the spaciousness to grow and evolve, to explore and experiment. For the ones who have been there like him, we understand perfectly what he was talking about. The love levels in MS are critical ;). And the experience there is a seed that stays in our hearts forever. But, of course, sometimes it’s hard to take care of the seed when conditions are not so favorable. And this is what Matthew shared as well: “When I came back from Manav Sadhna to Paris, I felt I was falling into another reality. In Manav Sadhna I felt I was flourishing as a person, but coming back I could feel how that flower was not blooming any more”.
In the closing circle Matthew shared few words that echoed the collective feeling: “I haven’t felt like this since I was in Manav Sadhna. Before coming here I felt I was withering, but during the retreat I felt I am blossoming again. I have re-experienced the feeling of community and kindness that touched me so much in India and now I feel I am stronger again and I can go out there and keep giving and receiving”.
He actually shared few inspired words after the retreat:
“I’m so so glad I made it. I keep on repeating this but the retreat fits so well into my narrative. Manav Sadhna planted a seed in me 2 years ago. They taught me how to make of love and service a passion. I went back last year with my own project as a way of thanking them and they saw the seed they had planted bloom. Throughout this year I tried continuing, but living in the environment I live in wore me out and this flower that Manav Sadhna had so nourished closed on itself. This retreat aloud it to reopen. It put the essentials back into perspective – reminding me as St.Exupéry writes so well that: “le plus beau métier de l’homme c’est de rassembler les hommes” (man’s most beautiful vocation is to bring humanity together). It reminded me why I needed to take a gap year before going to university. The most important things I’ve learned and most of the highly fulfilling experiences I’ve had have come from people like everyone who participated in making last week-end so exceptional. I believe that relationships in which two human beings can help build each other, whether it be physically, socially, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually, those are the relationships worth living and it’s always so enchanting to meet people with whom this is possible. I don’t think I’m mistaking when I say that these relationships are what make our lives worth living. It’s so fulfilling to see that I can inspire and change people just as much as people inspire and change me.”
Eashan, Mathew’s friend and the one who invited him to come offered beautiful words and inspiration as well. He is the older of the two (19!) and he has already manifested a lot of beauty in the World. He has been doing volunteer work in India and UK for more than 5 years now, mainly through his NGO: “The Youth Project”. Thousands of people have been served through its projects in 14 countries. He already shared his thoughts in couple TED talks and contributes so much to many communities around the World. For him, Manav Sadhna is “The best place in the World”. He comes back there every year because that’s the place where he feels more connected. And it was amazing to hear how he felt the same kind of connection during our time together in the retreat.
Manav Sadhna sons 🙂
Another inspired participant was Pilar, a woman with many years of experience in group facilitation. She came with her son, Adrián a young architect in the search of meaning who just came from a long journey through South America. Both very beautiful and inspiring people. Pilar is doing amazing work with group facilitation and conversation. One of her last projects is to create space for neo-villagers and people who already live in the villages. She lives in Zarzalejo, a town near Madrid. Zarzalejo has a lot of Transition initiatives, where people are creating alternatives for a more sustainable and human future. For her, the beauty of what she saw during the weekend was priceless… What is the prize of a life changing experience? No prize! She totally agreed with us offering everything as a gift, and I could feel a lot of gratitude for her support and words of wisdom… One of the things she said is that she felt a lot of space and openness to emergence. And this is something we hold very dear, we have a sort of agenda, but we dance with it depending on how the group feels and let the spirit of co-creation take place. Pilar and Adrián, we love you!! Thanks for coming!!
We could write pages about all participants! But we don’t want to make this article so long :).
Saturday evening we went for a silent walk in the nearby forests of Villasur. We are surrounded by beautiful nature here and it is such a gift to witness.
The walk inspired Alex, a gifted poet and raper and many other things to write few words of beauty he shared after our dinner in silence… In Spanish:
20:36 Caminando el Zen-dero:
Cosas profundas, hondas,
calando como un globo sonda
en mi conciencia: La Providencia.
20:45 Atardecer M(ar)inero:
La maraña de árboles,
la mar que araña a los árboles,
y me tiñe de negro.
Sentirme un pez en este fondo,
donde las algas producen moras,
y las olas dulces aromas
que arrastran polen,
líquenes, oxigeno y hierba.
Escualos que nos arropan con su canto
y graznidos creando escuelas en lo alto.
Bancos de santo remedio,
¿Acaso te dio argumentos para tenerlo tal Dios?
Yo creo que no.
Nos esparcimos con los tentáculos
que tientan confundirnos
entre tantos estímulos.
Ni tú, ni yo,
en el reflejo de esta agua marina.
Y las turbinas que nos rodean
son capaces de sacar el viento
sin preguntarlo, sin pretenderlo.
20:58 Fijada mirada en el Oh!rizonte:
Disípame las dudas
y aclárame las montañas
para que rieguen bien mis vías
y alcance aquel prado al alba.
22:13 De vuelta a Casa, sentado a zen-ar:
como una vela
que arrecia el viento
bregando por poder brillar.
Sunday morning was dedicated to the “Kindness Games” ;). We were divided in few groups and went out to the streets to share our presence and some acts of kindness. We kept it open for the ideas of all participants and creativity was beautiful. Some people decided to read poems to strangers in the streets, others decided to give free hugs, others painted messages of love with chalk all over the village… One group even welcomed people as they entered the mass… : And look what they left for them at the exit door:
“Thank you for existing”
A couple of tourists found few of the groups and they couldn’t believe what was going on in the village…. “What’s happening here? Everyone is so kind!!!” One local shepherd was read a text about sons by Khalil Gibrán Khalil, and he said: “I am going to read it to my sons and tell them I wrote it” ;).
After the Kindness Games we had a closing circle were people could express few words to the circle… and all of it was so beautiful…
The collective vibe was one of love, of humanity, of re-love-ution.
Diana shared how she was feeling sad and depressed before retreat, but some kind of healing happened after our days together. You could tell by the look in her eyes J. She was one of the volunteers who helped preparing the house for the retreat. She was lifting some mattresses to the upper floor. She shared how that task had been very difficult for her, but after retreat she felt so much good energy within her that she could do anything! She was feeling so strong!
David A. shared how it had been so beautiful to be at the service side… Just one year ago he was at the receiving end in the retreat and this time he was able to close that circle offering his time and love to the process for other people to enjoy it. Especially beautiful for him was the silent dinner on Saturday, where volunteers serve the food to participants.
As a beautiful coincidence, just one year ago, Miki and Irene met at a retreat… Since then, they have been together and they have been an essential part of these retreats. They shared how beautiful it has been for them to be involved in these retreats, and how beautiful it was to be gifted a synchronicity like being together at another retreat one year after they met.
Chi, who came all the way from London and is a remarkable ServiceSpace volunteer (she manages the ServiceSpace facebook page) shared how she was feeling so connected to service and how she wanted to start holding more retreats in UK 🙂 After the circle Eashan offered few spaces he knew of :).
Eashan shared he was feeling very connected to the space, and for him the retreat was a reflection of his experience in India: “I feel this space is Manav Sadhna in Europe”. Such a beautiful compliment to the sacred collective space we all created.
Raúl gave us a beautiful gift of love with his words: “I thought there were not good people in the world, since my life experience hasn’t been so pleasant, but you have made me rediscover that kind people do exist. I have recovered faith in humanity”.
As Matthew shared: “If I had to answer the question: ‘how was the retreat?’ in one phrase, I would have to answer: ‘I felt like I existed and helped others exist as a human being among other human beings’.” We all felt the same, in very powerful ways.
As we said bye to all the participants we sang:
Mira la felicidad
Look at it! It is happiness
Está aquí y ahora,
It’s here and now
Nada que hacer ni adonde ir
Nothing to do, nowhere to go
Ya nunca más con prisa
Never again, in a hurry
Love you all! Re-love-ution continues!