It was last year at Lama that this one was given the inspiration to literally follow in Murshid Sam’s footsteps, and visit the places in the Bay Area where he walked, taught and lived.
Alhamdullilah! It was a wonderful and very fulfilling experience.
This was our first “City” or Urban Retreat. Since our first Retreat in 1972 in Marin County, we have always opted to make this yearly event a ‘vacation’ and a rest for our family (many of whom are over worked and stressed in their daily jobs).
There was some trepidation as to whether we would be able to hold the energy together as we moved between meetings, eating and sleeping spaces.
I must start by saying how impressed I am by the maturity and stability of our group. We not only did it, but we did it very well, and with style.
Pir Shabda helped start our gathering with a beautiful talk on the spiritual nature of health and healing, and then led us in practice.
Rabbi Pamela (Parvati) led us in a celebration of the Shabbos (Friday evening) and then we all jumped on a city bus and went – singing and laughing and doing zikr – to the Theosophical Lodge, where we celebrated Joe & Guin Miller’s (our God parents) lives and teachings, and watched as Mary Kamalduski danced, recited and sang. Truly an experience we’ll talk about for years to come.
Saturday was our “Walk Around,” and 43 of us took a chartered bus together: first we drove to Ocean Beach, singing zikr all the way, where we tuned into Murshid Sam – tuning into Nyogen Senzaki. Wonderful energy. It was great walking on the beach and calling on them both to walk through us.
Then, we all drove (with Ram Nam and more zikr) to the Palace of Fine Arts, and did zikr under the Dome. WOW! Talk about acoustics! We were as close as we could get to where Hazrat Inayat Khan posed for his picture.
Then we drove on – eating our box lunch in the bus – to the Novato Khanka – the Garden of Inayat – where Hassan and Jayanara Hertz, most graciously received us. What a wonderful place they have created and nurtured. We all gathered together, and they answered questions about what it was like living there with Murshid, and what the times then were like for us. They also brought out an old photo album, so folks could see our very old photographs, while we sipped green tea.
The next stop was a book signing in Marin for Mansur’s new book Murshid. It was at the Open Secret Bookshop, was well received, and well attended (including Pir Shabda). Very sweet, and a beautiful space.
Finally, in the spirit of Murshid SAM and Joe Miller, I led the group to a Baskin-Robbins and bought everyone an ice cream cone.
We returned via our chartered bus to the Mentorgarden in full spirits. What a joyful, and uplifting day..
The next day was our open Sufi Healing Class – and about 20 newcomers showed up.
Our family offered an enticing and illuminating presentation: Sauluddin opened with a very concise view of “Sufi Healing”; Michael Endlich presented “Jewels and Amulets”; Nasruddin Eddie Greenberg presented “Humor and Healing”; Azima Lila Forrest presented an excerpt from her “Dreaming” workshop, Abdul Shaffee Howard Ballinger presented “Healing Presence”; Murad Malvin Finkelstein presented “Listening to our Body’s messages, energy cord cutting and a general overview of Sufi Qi Gong”; Aslan Scott Sattler led us in “A General Presentation on “the Integration of Tools of Spiritual Healing in Medical Practice”; Sarfaraz Kathy Knight presented “Transitions and a Discussion of the Dying Process”; a great event led by fabulous, highly talented and creative people!
We also did the Walks of the Prophets; with Parvati and myself doing the walks of Deborah (me) and Moses (her), and then switching walks and finally putting them together as a single walk. A new and inspired experience. We also did the walk of Mary Magdalene forthe first time, and of course all the other walks of the Masters, Saints and Prophets – which are such a key note in Murshids transmission.
Plus: Parvati led us in a Hebrew Zikr, and Azima Lila Forest presented an astrological forecast for the ‘coming times.’The lesson is to keep loose, be prepared and keep the family strong, interdependent and interactive.
Finally, Laura Meltsner led us up to Precita Hill, where Murshid SAM did the Call to Prayer in Sun Seed. We did Zikr Allah, and the Maha Mudra there, and sent Love and Peace and Joy to all the lands around us. We then met in Precita Park, when Aslan led us in Murshid Sam’s original dances. What a Flash Back! And how well received by the neighbor kids – they loved it! Riding their bikes around singing Ram! Ram! Ram!
Our last day was the presentation of the DHO Fortune Cookies (with a Sifat-i-Allah inside).
All this, plus a bed time story, great food, and fabulous company.
And, now the homework for the year: Hazrat Inayat Khan brought through the Healing Prayer, Nayaz. In which he says “heal our bodies, hearts and souls.”
The “koan” for the year is: How can the soul, which is perfect, need healing?
Special thanks to Rabia Hunter for being omnipresent, and so supportive behind the scenes. To Jennifer for the registration and financial organization; and to Heather Hoppe and Abdul Shaffee who manifested beautiful invitations to our Open Sufi Healing Class and to the entire event. To Fatima who served us all yummy and delicious food. To our family who sheltered us (thanks Fadhilla and Michael), organized the wildly successful and successfully wild bus zikr adventure (Murad and Michael), the trip to the Theosophical Society (Murad) and the Siffat Fortune Cookies (Fadhilla). Plus, found and secured the dorms for us to sleep in (Jennifer and Jude). Thanks to Shakki for being our travel guide to the Theosophical Society and for being our recorder and to Jude for the beautiful name tags and open Sufi Healing Class program. Special thanks to Murad for keeping me on time and in tune – Yeah! acupuncture.
We also announced our next DHO Gathering – Lama 2008 – dates: June 23 to 29 (Monday to Sunday) – Theme: Oracles and the Oracular Function.
And finally, as this was a benefit for the Mentorgarden we raised between $1,500 and $2,000 for the Mentorgarten – (the final figures are not yet in). Alhamdulliah!
So much happened, and so much energy flowed through us – if I have forgotten or missed someones presentation or support, please forgive me – I tend to see it all as a whole event, and sometimes miss the details.
Am off this Thursday to Germany for the Ruhaniat Summer School, and then on to Estonia for a teaching weekend.
Sending all love and blessings and again, so many blessings to all those who made our “Walk Around happen.
Yours in Service to the Real,
Charlottesville, Virginia – June 27, 2007
P.S. we also are planning a return to the Bay Area in March 2008 – to do a Rug Benefit for Planet Drum Foundation. More on this, plus what open event we’ll do a bit later.