My heart is expanded and my cup is full from the retreat we just had at Ballina Beach Village, which over 30 people attended. Our theme was “in the footsteps of the Masters and Ancestors.” We celebrated 25 years of Dance in Australia and 50 years as a worldwide network. We also used the sub-theme of “My house shall be a house of Prayer for all People” a saying from both Hazrat Inayat Khan and Murshid Sam, which became a foundation for our pageant. I heard the Humboldt Sufi choir doing a rendition of this Chant which I serendipitously received for my birthday. I reckon we sounded equally as awesome with all our parts singing as one during our pageant. We processioned with the tankas of the ancestors of the Dance and of our Land, and showered petals onto the centrepiece of our own dance family ancestors. The venue manager’s 5 year old Daughter, Charlotte, joined us in the dancing and singing and held the basket as we gathered the petals to scatter. I still remember her beaming face!
The wildness of the beach, the spaciousness of the Hall and the quietness of the landscape all added to the magnificent time we shared together. It was such a magical time of offerings and recollections. The ancestors were truly recognised and their Presence tangible to all our beings. Shakur Allah to Cedar, who helped carry us through the vision of the pageant by creating the most awesome tankas, and for Mariam who fulfilled the vision of co-creating a centrepiece which included all of our Aussie Dance ancestors. We had our usual creative team: Karen and her indispensable glue gun, Margie guided us into the poetry of our Dance life, as well as Freya, maker of nature mandalas!
How blessed we were with all our musicians: Arjuna, Amrita, Andrew, Dede, Chandika, Kalissa and Geoff, besides myself. I don’t recall a time when we had such abundance: flutes, guitars, violin, harp, dulcimer, drums, keyboard and even the ukulele. May it continue. The icing on the cake were the wonderful voices of world class “Heart and Soul” duo: Kalissa and Geoff and their original uplifting compositions. We were also graced by the youngest of our group Chandika: a devotional soul and another divine voice which melted our hearts. We truly created our own heaven, as we sang and danced our praises to God, the Divine Mother, The Masters and the ancestors.
Each day we honoured each of the traditions and on the last day we included a Universal Worship, as we do with “our homegrown retreats”. This year both Arjuna and I did a collective sharing of lighting the candles and everyone said the prayers together, Our newest and youngest dance Leader Amritasri, led a delightful Radhe Bol, and there were other heart felt offerings of chants, dances and prayers that honoured Earth Day.
We finished aptly with “Thy Light is in all Forms” for the Sufi tradition and then ended with the “Benediction Dance.” For most people this a highlight of our retreats together…a sharing of worship, an honouring of both male and female, as one in the Unity of God. We are part of the sharing culture of our indigenous ancestors of the land ,the most ancient of lands and for the most part we are the elders, the keepers of wisdom..
Thus the seeds of dancing peace planted on our Australian soil, have flowered into their present state, honouring all beings.
I attribute some of the deepening of the retreat, to the inner circle of friends, who meet monthly on skype in Sufi practice and conversation., We held the concentration of “Ya Ahad, Ya Samad” …”O Unity, O Eternity” on the inner planes. It felt like we were working with the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the Spirit of Guidance, and this included the message, the mystery, the miracle and the Mother!.
Diane Green , our videographer will be diligently editing her videos and footage of the retreat and I have a complete program of all Dances done, so the dances can be correlates with the footage.
What a great team effort!
Vreni, a retreatant sent me this email to say:
“Many, many thanks to you and all the other teachers for organising this wonderful retreat.
Only realised this morning after a 9 hour sleep how powerful all the purifying and healing energies were that filled the room for 5 days and roared through our bodies as we were dancing and praying.
Feel as if I have been purified and healed in body, mind and spirit by the many ancestors, elders and angels etc that were evoked through the dances and rituals!
What a blessed event to attend and calling it a “home grown retreat” feels so inadequate as a description of the transformation that I’m sure occurred for each one of us.
May the dancing spirits and masters continue to sustain you!
Stay happy and well,
For next year: Wali and Arienne’s visit, I have booked the Ballina Beach Village for the dates Tuesday April 16th- 21st 2019 . A Sydney event is to happen on 13th-14th April. Mark these dates for your calendar
Salaam, Shalom, Shanti
Zebunissa 25th April 2018
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