It’s almost two weeks since we picked up our volunteers for this year’s work month, and so far we are establishing a very harmonious community with Vassika, Padmalila and Samata, who is here for the second time. We are delighted to have Samata staying with us till July. Vassika will be with us for the whole month and Padmalila now regrets that she will be here for only two weeks. All three are a delight to work alongside with! So far, the work is progressing well and we are able to have time for chapter, some study on direct pointing and not to forget leisure activities as well.
What’s going on
The guys (Joris, Howard and Tomás) just finished the water storage tank which they started on mid February. It’s also been a joy seeing them work in such a smooth and easy way. At least from a distance it looked like they enjoyed themselves. Not only have they made a water storage tank (with a terrace on top with the most amazing view), they also created a beautiful terrace in front of the house, for which tons and tons of cement came in.
The five of us have been busy up at the retreat centre making a start on the preparation for the new season. We started with some varnishing and decided that the kitchen walls could also do with painting. It looks all very proper and clean now! From yesterday on we finally started the actual cleaning!! The weather has been on the whole absolutely fantastic, which made the work at the retreat centre a bit more pleasant than last year because it’s cold indoors but we could warm up in the sunshine outside during our tea-breaks.
During the community month in November, Yashobodhi started off a heroic job of clearing the terrace wall opposite the retreat centre. Different piles of different size stones and heaps of earth appeared. Her attempt to re-build the wall was unfortunately stopped by the snow. We are lucky to get to know Nigel who lives near Valderrobres and has built lots of dry-stone walls on his own property. We asked him to help us re-build the wall and at the same time teach us how to do it. Not only has he done a beautiful job, a piece of art, he is also a really good teacher. Although you get an impression from the picture it would be worth your while to come and see it for yourself. As you will see when you get to to Akashavana there is no shortage of opportunity to learn to rebuild walls! But I can tell you it’s physically very demanding! Left pic is before… Right pick is after!!
The work of the last two weeks has connected us back with Akashavana as we had had two weeks off, which we each spent differently. Manigarbha went to Valencia for an intensive Spanish course and Acalavajri had some quiet time on her own despite that the fact that it was the week when the guys came to start building the water storage tank, which meant lots of cups of coffee and practical decisions needed to be made. And so she was happy to drive down to Valencia to join Manigarbha for the weekend and have a chapter meeting with Paramachitta. We went on a little road trip together to Alicante to visit a friend of Manigarbha. While in the neighbourhood we visited Guhyaloka and we were warmly welcomed by Maniraja and Vidyasiddhi. Maniraja showed us around the place and we had a good look at the solitary huts and Uttaraloka. It has been really good to connect with them on the basis of much common experience.
To give you a bit of a flavour of how the days go on, we meditate together at 8am, and then have our breakfast in silence. A very familiar morning ritual to watch: Samata is doing her yoga poses next to the stove..
The mornings we have to ourselves and we re-gather for lunch after which we go up to the retreat centre to work till 5pm. When we get home supper has been cooked by the person who has a day off. After supper we have a little check-in. In the evenings, some of us have a sit, or we sit in a warm lounge, reading, knitting, learning Spanish… For most of us it is an early night after a busy day, except for Acalavajri who normally puts out the lights at night. Every week we meet as a Chapter.
Yesterday we had a communal day off , which we do now and then (we don’t do weekends!). We walked to Penarroya in the blazing sunlight and visited the museum Lo Masmut, which is a museum about the life in masias like what the retreat centre was like when we bought it, ten years ago. The almond trees are in full blossom now which is absolutly stunning! We had coffee in the hotel in Penarroya, which has just re-opened after their holiday and it was lovely to see the smiling faces of Paco and Rosi again. Then we enjoyed a lunch at the Virgen de la Fuente which also was a warm welcome back by Irma. Lovely place, lovely atmosphere! A real treat! When we got home we watched a DVD. What more can you wish for…
Who knows, maybe next time you’ll read something by one of the volunteers about how it’s been like to live in our little community…
With love manigarbha and thanks to Vassika for helping me by typing it out for me!