As the winter solstice approaches may we learn well from the lessons of nature on how to rest. Not the sort of resting we may think of initially that we mistakenly label as lazy or ineffectual or selfish, probably even unnecessary. But the sort of resting that contains a great sense of importance, wisdom, and purpose. Nature does not rest without intention. Nature rests to continue its varied and diverse manifestations in order to sustain its dependents – animals, plants, minerals, us. The beauty of the gentle waters, fragrant trees, and penetrating skies relies on the art of resting – on the ability to be set free in the stillness between breaths.
Community building is something I prioritize and greatly enjoy putting time and energy into. If it involves bringing people together I’m all for it – whether it’s a potluck, celebration event, club meeting, sangha circle, sporting event, performance, getting tea with a friend, or a family gathering the power of coming together with others is just awesome!
I have the wonderful opportunity to come together with others in a multitude of ways from helping to facilitate my sangha on Monday nights to working with middle school students to volunteering with hospice to leading board meetings and hosting community events and potlucks. It is a joy and a gift to be able to come together with others.
A few weeks ago I helped to host a community Thanksgiving meal at our house – last weekend I put on an open mic night at our local meditation center – yesterday I attended our annual solstice celebration at our meditation center – and tomorrow I’m looking forward to our annual white elephant gift exchange with my local sangha Be Here Now. Sharing food over Thanksgiving, sharing music and creativity at our open mic night, and sharing silence and stories at the solstice event puts me in touch with a deep well of gratitude. I am because my community is. I am inspired, filled up, supported, and transformed by all of the many wonderful folks I come into contact with.
On Saturday we had our annual sanghas solstice celebration at the mindfulness center. Open Way has been putting these together for 20 years or so. Our day started with sitting and walking meditation followed by a short dharma talk on the topic of beginning anew by our local teacher Rowan. After his talk there was time for discussion and then we had our Bringing Back the Light ceremony which consists of each person going into the middle of the room and screwing in one of the lightbulbs in our lovely centerpiece (pictured above) until it lights up and then sharing an offering of story, song, poetry, or whatever else you’ve brought to share. This circle of sharing took us a little while, as there were around 20 of us present. After the sharing circle I led a deep relaxation and then we shared in a potluck dinner. People came and went throughout the afternoon and early evening and we had a lovely day of practice together.
We also chose to combine the solstice celebration with the start of our winter series open mic nights at the mindfulness center. This is our third year of offering once a month open mic nights at the center through the winter and we’ve been having a lot of fun with them. So after our afternoon of practice, solstice celebrating, and potlucking we had our first open mic of the season. We had magic, comedy, songs, show-n-tell, poetry, and instrumentals. For our open mic’s we invite all ages and all types of sharing and have never been disappointed with the array of creative stylings we receive. I look forward to hosting the rest through the winter!