Some note by Patricia Chaves on this pilgrimage time held by the East-West Meditation Foundation
Janssen Centre : 22 Woodvale Road, Boronia,
15th – 17th October, 2018
Present: Patricia Chaves, Michael Mifsud, Kathleen Murphy, Thien Nguyen, Ken Petersen, Marie Santamaria, Gwenda Rait, Corrie Van den Bosch, Tiani Zia Kane.
4.00 PM Arrive. Cup of tea
Michael : What are your hopes for the retreat?
Lectio on article of Bede Griffiths’ thoughts on pilgrimage
6.00 pm. Dinner
DVD: Peace in Every Step. The life of Thich Nat Hahn
Night prayer Ararti
9.30AM Michael: Sharing of personal pilgrimage. Reflection
10.15AM Corrie: Sharing of personal pilgrimage. Reflection
11.00AM Morning tea
11.30AM Thien: Sharing of personal pilgrimage. Reflection
3.00PM Ken/Kathleen: Sharing of personal pilgrimage. Reflection
4.00PM Afternoon tea
7.30PM DVD: Zen: The journey of Dogen Zenji
Night prayer Ararti
- AM Eucharist
Tiani: Sharing of personal pilgrimage. Reflection
11.00AM Morning Tea
11.30AM Gwenda: Sharing of personal pilgrimage. Reflection
We have had an amazing retreat – uncovering the stories of the heart, which Thien calls “the Gospel of our lives.” Corrie used the metaphor of the tapestry, in which the threads are inert and make little sense, until they are woven into the fabric of meaning.
Everyone seemed relieved in some way, to have arrived at this retreat to meet each other and share experience and wisdom. After a year of pilgrimage to other places, the idea was to examine where we are in our personal pilgrimage to our hearts and we were here to share ourselves through our stories.
Ken provided us with a paper on Contemplative Listening which said that “Resonance, Resistance and Re-alignment” were some of what we could expect during the next few days. Michael spoke about what “pilgrimage to the heart” really means, but of course he could only use metaphors like the labyrinth, the hermitage and meditation cell to describe the ideas which are metaphors themselves. Language is always symbolic, and mostly inadequate, but being human we continue to try to articulate what we feel. He gave us an article to read by Monica Furlong, called “The heart in pilgrimage”.
The question, “Why are you here?” was asked, and some of the answers included the fact that it is not very often that one gets to talk about and listen to real, honest stories of spiritual experience, with no facades to get in the way. It was also said that the spaciousness of this sacred time and restfulness of this place were necessary in the heedless world of work and worry.
The Lectio on an article by Bede Griffiths (provided by Ken) engendered discussion on many things like belief, freedom, vulnerability, divinity, mystery, presence, love and reality.
We watched two DVDs which informed our story telling:
- On Thich Nath Hanh and his teachings on interdependence and inter-being, which illustrate the web of interconnection.
- On Dogen Zenji, which was a story of the search for the true teaching of Zen.
We were also looked after and fed very well by Thien who was running the centre single handed in the absence of Elisabeth and others.
The next two days were filled with our stories containing worlds of struggle and hope; immense hardship and adventure; loss and grief; discovery, peace and joy. Homecoming is a condition – not a place in space and time, and in a sense it develops and deepens with awareness and the listening and telling of it… so we are never there, yet. But we are here, now.
The sharing of self at a deep level is a marvel and the receiving of story, a privilege. It is not unlike making a tapestry which has to be worked at with joy and wonder and respect, together. There was a sense of offering our own constructions of self, with great vulnerability.
The stories not only revealed but wove us together in strands of light and love. And in between there was space, and silence, which was perhaps as telling as the sound.