By Ischa Lea
The morning dawned with an air of excitement permeating the Sanctuary grounds. Adults and children alike anxiously awaited the beginning of a family friendly Regenerating Earth and Spirit event that would encompass three different components. And what a day it proved to be!
A brief introduction to highlight the planned activities by Sunburst’s permaculture expert, Sean Fennell, and Shakti Ranch’s Natalie Riggs further fanned the fires of anticipation of what the day might bring. And rare gifts it did. Natalie’s incredible ability to help each person connect with the resident Sunburst horses on a deep inner level of mutual exchange was phenomenal! Even folks who normally experienced trepidation around horses were happily and gratefully moved by Natalie’s ability to gently guide them to connect from their heart centers to the horses and the horses’ ability to “know” just what each person needed. What a transformative experience for all!
If Natalie proved to be an amazing horse whisperer, then Sean Fennell proved to be an equally amazing soil whisperer! His ability to tenderly weave the spiritual and material into a beautiful synchronistic interplay of permaculture principles, ethics and hands-on practices were greatly appreciated by everyone who accompanied him to the gardens to witness firsthand Spirit and Nature working seamlessly together as they helped plant vegetables, put up a small hoop house, and proceed to the orchard to plant apple trees.
Is there anything more fun than a hayride? What a thrill it was to join the kids as we all enjoyed a hayride to and from the compost area where Sean explained the logistics of making fine compost as well as noting the intricacies of Nature’s own way of ensuring that there’s no waste. Her ingenuity in designing natural systems of cohesive cooperation between life forms both above and below the soil is inspiring.
Alfred King’s expertise on grafting was yet another amazing highlight of an incredibly fulfilling day as many of us listened intently to the history and methodologies of certain grafting techniques. More exciting, however, was the opportunity for each of us to perform an actual graft on a tree to take home with us.
It reminded me of a sweet experience as a child of helping to make cupcakes, and the thrill of being surprisingly gifted with quite a few to take home! How proud I was to announce that I had helped make those lovely cupcakes. How equally thrilled each of us adults were, now that we’d done our first grafts!
And the magic moments at Sunburst continued as a few weeks later a new group of adventurous souls embarked upon a Nature hunt on the Sanctuary hills. The event? A Paleontology Workshop headed by Sunburst’s own science teacher, Moksha Badarayan, and Sunburst docent, Craig Hanson, who would lead eager trekkers up the hillsides to hunt for ancient clam shells and shark’s teeth. And boy did we find some beauties! The Earth Mother’s energy seemed so palpable that we adults could not help but morph into the innocence and excitement of childhood once again as we each hunted for the perfect petrified clam.
I had never witnessed such huge clams or imagined they could exist! Two young ladies repurposed a child’s wagon into a clam wagon to haul our large clam shells down the hill, stashed momentarily. Now the youngest trekkers joined the rest of us in the hunt for sharks teeth up Shark Tooth Hill.
Beautiful warm weather, blue skies, adventurous spirits, and loving company graced both events. As rewarding as it can be journeying inwardly to connect with Spirit in the quiet of our souls, thrilled at the prospect of a direct personal encounter with Spirit, it can also be rewarding to journey outwardly with kindred souls, discovering Spirit’s presence, beauty, and myriad gifts in Nature.
By Ischa Lea
A year ago, with great sadness in my heart, I looked at the almost 100-year-old Pippin Apple tree at the end of our driveway and said to her, “I’m so sorry that all your beautiful flowers have been blown away during this extremely windy spring and all your efforts to treat us with your delicious apples have been lost.” As if to make up for that loss, her lovely branches were miraculously adorned with hundreds of apples this year!
She’s been of great inspiration to me, sharing a secret bond, for as I would walk or drive past her, sending a little blessing her way, I could feel the reciprocal energy of a gentle hug coming from her. How grateful I am that she both blesses and graces the entrance at the end of our driveway.
Long overdue for a pruning, how often I would wish that someone with that knowledge came forth to take good care of her. Her energy is wonderful! The cows love her shady branches and often indulge in her treats. And the birds and insects too! To me, she is the Great Grandmother Spirit of our beautiful Sanctuary, providing shelter, food, wisdom, inspiration, and beauty and comfort.Sadly, as I looked outside one morning recently, I was heart-broken to see my beautiful apple tree, so laden with larger, luscious fruits that their weight split her trunk almost in half! I cried that day, and still do when I look upon her glorious presence so suddenly destroyed!
Will she survive? Will her nourishing apples ever get to fully ripen? Is she saying a final goodbye, having given her all to produce countless bountiful harvests despite the harsh conditions of many severe droughts and not having been watered except during the few months of minimal rainfall each year?
Oh beautiful tree, you’ve taught me so many lessons these past two years that we’ve been neighbors. You inspired me to hang on and be strong when I was quite ill and weak; you inspired me to stand back and just allow life to flow through me when I had not the wisdom to otherwise practice; you taught me that resilience comes from within, that sacred inner drive to simply be. Furthermore, you showed me how, despite the lack of human care for many years, you yet thrived, living among the oaks and wildlife for almost one hundred years so free!
I cannot selfishly ask you to stay if it’s nearing your time to say goodbye for that would be wrong; however, while you yet shine in glory, laden with the fruits of your joyful, unconditional giving, I wish to say, “Thank you for being The Tree That Never Gives Up; The Tree That Taught Me How To Simply Be!”
Only time will tell whether how much longer you shall be,
An icon of beauty, decked yearly in spring flowers sweet;
But whether for another year, nay dozens more as friends we meet,
Magnificent friend and teacher you always shall be!
By Patricia Paulsen
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God,” a powerful statement! “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” This was spoken by Jesus to let all the people know this is possible.
Today we saw, in the early morning, a thick fog that was just hovering around us outside. It was actually very beautiful. I could barely see the tops of the trees, it was so present. It was comforting; it almost felt like it was a nice embrace. It made me think for a moment, as Jesus always put stories into nature, that my faith would know that there was still a sun in the sky shining somewhere, and star systems, and galaxies above me. But my senses couldn’t see it; I only saw what was right there.
It made me think about the similar journey of our soul. Sometimes with that cloud around us, we’re not able to see fully an understanding of the soul’s spiritual journey. We only see and comprehend what’s in the sensory world, what’s around you—and your security, and your basic needs.
But there’s always something in you, longing for more. You realize something more has to fill that space inside of you that is hungering. When you have that awakening, that moment is when you begin the journey of the spiritual warrior, walking the journey of your soul to its full potential of God realization.
This is the resurrection of our souls—to know that inwardly there is that light of Christ consciousness shining upon us all. We are the waves in this ocean of love. Sometimes we forget the ocean, but we are each a part of this eternity.
By Dawn King
At the end of June, Erika Indrani Eddy led a weekend workshop at Sunburst that addressed Chinese and Ayurvedic approaches to summer. “Tune In To Your Fire” gave us a yoga practice appropriate for the hotter months of the year, as well as one that tuned our digestive juices and supported the heart.
In Erika’s talk on Chinese medicine and Ayurveda she explained, among other things, how the heart takes over and works harder when other bodily systems are impaired. With props, handouts, and interactive segments, this was an extremely informative and helpful afternoon segment of the workshop.
Saturday evening treated us to an authentic Vedic fire ceremony, or havan, just as one would participate in a puja or homa while in India. Erika is an accomplished student of Niranjananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine. She led chanting at the next day’s Sunday service as well. It was a magical weekend, filled with blessings for body, mind and spirit.
By Craig Hanson
To renounce the ego is a little different than what we may think of as renunciation. The Upanishads say that letting go of ego is not a renunciation of life; it’s a renunciation of all those things that make us unhappy—anger, selfishness, and desires for things or people, desires for money, for relationships, or to be recognized.
What is ego? I think of it as being like a grain of sand in an oyster. The grain of sand is irritating. It causes development of layers and layers of belief systems and sense impressions around it, eventually becoming a sphere of what we identify with. The ego builds up this whole concept of what we think we are.
I find when I’m working during the day, if I’m not staying centered on the work at hand. I’m thinking about results—thinking, “I want to get this job finished, so I can go on to something else.” This is ego talking. Or, when I get done, if I keep looking back and thinking, “Oh, that’s a great job. I hope someone notices my beautiful work.” That’s the ego talking.
The ego is a slippery little guy. It has all this inner dialogue. It can look at a person and all of a sudden form a judgement: “Well, that’s probably somebody I wouldn’t want to know.” Ego creates a whole culture of stereotypes that we’re familiar with. if we watch the news, we’re constantly confronted with it.
The ego has created what we see in movies, and in our daily lives. But, we can look at our lives and ask ourselves how we’ve really enjoyed life over the years. What experiences have we found most enjoyable? Looking back upon my life, I see the most joyful times are when I’m giving a present, or making a gift for somebody. I’m not thinking about how much I’m going to receive for this; I’m just giving it. I’m not thinking, “If they don’t like it, then I can always get it back and resell it on e-bay.” My ego has had those ideas, but I had to say to myself, “Let go of that thought, and bring it back to center.”
Each of us is exploring our inner world and learning to use our God-given abilities to bring heaven on this earth. Whatever talents or gifts we have, let us remember to give those gifts unselfishly, for the enjoyment of others and the inspiration that we might give to others. This is our true enjoyment.
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