I will try to describe this week somehow...
I did not, as I'd hoped, leave for Lama at dawn, but in early afternoon. It is a l-o-n-g drive, and a beautiful one. They housed me in one of their "huts": a lovely, tiny, efficient dwelling with room for a bed, a brilliant drop-down desk one can write at while sitting on the bed, and windows that bring both light and air, and a view of the stars, of sunrise, of sunset; and the sound of birds.
IT IS QUIET---that is, we hear a machine now and then; but mostly, it's people, and kids playing, and a dog or two, and the birds. They observe silence until breakfast, a lovely practice.
There are more stars in the night sky than I have seen anywhere but Australia and New Zealand.
I heard no news, saw no TV, had no phone and did not bring this laptop.
The group that gathered to celebrate the Solstice and Lama's 50th anniversary was a wild, wonderful mixture of folk---many aging hippies; others who look "normal" until you begin to talk to them, and find they are wonderfully wild as well...
Memories. Nostalgia. Disbelief when facing the present.
Great kindness and generosity and memories of their teacher, Sufi Sam Lewis, buried farther up the hill. A ceremony of blessing their spring of water. No waste. Outhouses. Sharing food prep and cleanup, in shifts. Chop vegetables; wash dishes.
Some people I had wanted to visit with for years.
A stunning, brilliant performance by Zuleika, dancer/musician/storyteller.
Reminiscences: stories of Lama from the old-timers. One was remembering Zalman's retreat there, up in the Hermitage. Only he was such an extravert, she said, that he couldn't stay up in the hermitage, and kept coming down to the kitchen, joining everybody else. At some point he was getting them to make tsimmes...How we laughed.
An evening of zikr.
Also an afternoon of zikr with Zuleika, in a marvelous outdoor structure with no roof, but an intensely blue sky above us...
Then: an amazing visit between the whole bunch of us with Ram Das in Hawaii, by zoom.
Two other things stood out for me, amidst all this richness: one was the great generosity of the community; the other was the unique and rich quality of some of the people that I met. One or two will surely become lasting friends. One of these, a fine and rare person, took me to the labyrinth that had been beautifully crafted with sticks, stones, shells...We walked it silently on shabbos: into one's center/heart; out once more into the world, bringing inner riches.
We walked it once more today: an opening, a gathering of riches, and a goodbye.
I am home now, and deeply grateful to have shared this remarkable few days with these profoundly beautiful people. Also encouraged, in the original sense of the word, to find that the spirit of seeking, of sharing, of great generosity and sharp inquiry have been kept alive.