It is hard to believe we have come through one year of a worldwide pandemic. For many, it has been a very long year indeed. How well I recall last March when the Temenos garden gates were closed for the first time in twenty years and our village streets suddenly deserted.
Most of us have had to face extraordinary challenges. Some have had to embrace grieving, some the frightening damage to a livelihood. Others have suffered separation from those they love, and a great loneliness that has all too often led to despair. Yet, through it all, there are those who have discovered new creative opportunities and come to enjoy the gift of more solitude and silence and a simpler way of life. I would guess that many of us too have come to realise how fragile and precious life is, and the special relationships we share. I, for one, find myself celebrating the gift of Life much more frequently.
Many years ago I befriended Les Petites Soeurs de Jesus, an order of nuns dedicated to serving the most marginalised in our society. Interestingly, before they take their final vows they spend months in the Sahara Desert in the presence of the ‘hidden face of God’. Their vocation places great emphasis on simplicity and a deep surrender to the adversities they are often called to face. They once shared with me a wonderful image that has helped me see through many challenges. When faced with seemingly overwhelming circumstances, instead of immediately struggling to make sense of everything, we choose rather to ‘pitch our tent in the desert,’ and wait. By consciously doing this we push a pause button which allows our hearts to absorb the deep paradoxes and mystery of being fully human.
This waiting is not without hope for in its own time we may find the gifts that come from surrendering and non-resistance. ‘Hope’, as Desmond Tutu reminds us,’ is being able to see the light despite all the darkness’. For some, the Beloved will come in the form of divine consolation and inspiration. Others will uncover a deeper appreciation of the cycle of life. Often too, a commitment to one’s spiritual practice, whatever personal form that takes, gradually begins to kick in, and we become aware of the movement of the soul in all the circumstances that we daily face. What once seemed like a desert, a hermit friend reminded me, may become a carpet of flowers. Those of you who have been to Namaqualand will know of this miraculous transformation. ‘A beautiful metaphor for resurrection!’
As I approach this Easter my heart is filled with a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude, on a personal level, for the remarkable loving relationship I had with my father and with Michael, a lifelong companion. Both died during these last months. I have gratitude too for the friends who have shown so much support to me and Temenos. Our garden of the Beloved is still flourishing and looking more beautiful than ever. l If we are patient, and observe ourselves with softer eyes, hope is ever-present, as are the possibilities of new beginnings.
I wish all my Christian friends a blessed Easter and to my Jewish friends a happy festival. To everyone else I wish for you a tent in your desert times, and fields of flowers that never cease to surprise you or fill you with wonder.
Our Easter programme and Upcoming Retreats at Temenos
NURTURING WEEKEND RETREAT – CREATIVITY, YOGA, MEDITATION
March 26 – 28
A nourishing and restorative retreat with Heidi and Ba bara to reconnect your true self. The retreat includes guided creative mindfulness exercises, evening and morning meditations, as well as gentle vinyasa and yin yoga. For more information firstname.lastname@example.org
The Self Compassion Break
April 9 - 11
This is the perfect time to extend your Easter break and ensure you make it all about learning the art of nurturing yourself. The creative process is a gateway, which allows the space to observe our way of being with new, fresh eyes. For more information on this creative retreat contact email@example.com
Zen Pen: A Writing, Being and Meditation Retreat with Dorian Haarhof
April 16 - 18
Time to talk, circle the garden, sit amidst blue glass, breath and be…
What do writing, being and breath share in common? They all bring alive and expand the present moment. They invoke a conversation with ourselves and others.