The story begins a fortnight ago. Among some of my favourite cloths, I had lost one to the dhobi (laundry man), who comes to our house every day evening to collect cloths required to be pressed and return them on next day. As I did not get the trouser back I screamed at him once, but next moment I controlled myself. It was probably due to practising Vipasana, I listened to my inner voice, which constantly persuaded me saying ‘detachment’.
On Saturday morning, before the Moved by Love retreat began, I was asked by Deven to reach Safai Vidyalaya near Gandhi Ashram at Ahmedabad to pick up a few participants and reach them at Sugad. Around 7.30 AM, I was at Safai Vidyalaya. The first people I met were Bela and Tejas. When I introduced myself to Bela, she immediately recognised me through my blogs in Service Space. I felt nice. We shared a brief moment knowing each other, interest and work areas. The next participant I met was Swapna. I felt again nice as she complimented on my smiling face. It was a beautiful beginning of the retreat. We reached Sugad around 8.15 AM and was greeted with warmth and love by Lahar, Sonal, Vipul and Khusmita. We all arranged flowers after a brief orientation.
The retreat began as planned with ‘Circle of Sharing’. Everyone shared their inner stories on generosity. As the day proceeded we got to know each other better. As it the evening approached we started working towards arranging the silence dinner for the guests. For the first time, I got chance to work with Jayeshbhai and Lahar, both incredible people with great senses of appreciating and creating beauty. I learnt in an informal way about services that are carried out in the backyard of retreats. As I was busy in the kitchen, I missed two of the spirited talks, however, the presentation by Mira was thought provoking. I was reflecting upon how the concept of waste management can be taught more meaningfully to students of Social Studies in high schools.
The first night of the retreat did not go well for me due to continuous mosquito bite. But it did not have any effect on the next day’s activity. Next morning, after the breakfast it was Jayeshbhai’s spirited talk on karma, or work by using hands. I was moved by his explanation of difficult concepts on religions, spirituality, emotions, and a plethora of humanity related topics so simply and beautifully. I was assigned to the kitchen group for the karma.
I love kitchen and cooking. But this time there was great fun chopping kilos of onions in the company of Swapna and pilling ripe mangos in the company of Sonal. The fragrance from the kitchen was always tempting. As the cooking was nearing to completion, we got engaged arranging the sitting space. We welcomed guests with dance and music. We served food with great love, never realizing that there would be nothing left for us. But it did not break the spirit of trust. We again cooked khichdi for the rest of us. A great moment of trust prevailed with the entry of Pratyush who not only served us but also took away our finished plates and bowls for cleaning.
In the evening we all went to Gandhi Ashram and then Seva Cafe. At Gandhi Ashram, I got a chance to chat informally with Mukeshbhai on meditation and spirituality. As we reached Seva Cafe, we were welcomed with tilak and with love were taken in. I sat opposite Kavita Aunty, who is also the mother of Pratyush. We spoke intensely for an hour on Pratush’s spiritual journey as well as her reaction to it. I also shared my personal story with her as there was a mutual trust. It was indeed a great learning through sharing each other’s feeling and personal stories. A feather was added to the moment with performance of the rock band, followed by Nimiesh’s electrifying singing.
The third day of the retreat was quite auspicious. It was perhaps one of the most divine moments of my life. The participants had to go through a process of gratitude by bowing down at every three steps. As a volunteer I was told to serve water in the middle of the path way. When participants one after another passed by I felt deeply humbled to see many of them bowing down at me. I cried at moments, perhaps after a long time in my adulthood journey.
As the retreat came to end there were again great moments of love, shared through hugging with people, to whom I did not know 3 days ago.
I reached home around 6 PM. There was a surprise. The trouser I had lost to the dhobi a fortnight ago had been returned safely by the dhobi. It was kept nicely pressed in the puja room. As I reflected, I felt how trust has been a greatest gift to humanity which we misuse on many occasions by distrusting people. Perhaps this was greatest take away reflection from the retreat.