A Circle of Giving in Mumbai
On the 22nd of December, we found ourselves in the beautiful Retreat house set amidst lush greenery in Mumbai, where 40 sets of hands and hearts offered their time and love to one another. The space already carried the vibrations of noble fathers and sisters of the church, who were Moved By Love along in the course of the day, reaffirming their trust in Inter-faith traditions.
From the time we stepped into the campus, we were all inspired by the energy of the young volunteers who created beautiful decorations in every corner of the space. From flower Rangolis to poems about generosity, the ambience was set to hold a 'Circle of Giving'. And the spirit of authenticity flowed freely. 19 year old Parth shared how he had been raised to be a 'Critical' thinker. But after reflection and consistently seeing good in bad and bad in good, he found himself unable to be 'critical' anymore - he was now seeing value in everything around him. With all the elders in the room, Arti expressed thanks for her mother who with trust allows her freedom, only ever asking "Have you eaten, beta?". Ranjanaben shared how her children Darpan and Drishti's transformation had inspired the entire family. Shitalben thanked the circle which harbored values of slowing down and listening with empathy and compassion, so needed in times of predominant apathy. while Shaili's mother is being held in the spirit of love by the collective, Shailaben and Yogeshbhai were thanking their daughters for becoming their teachers.
As Natasha took us through a circle of dance expression post lunch, all those small acts of service of smiles, hugs and gestures ensured our collective heart overflowed. We all stepped out in the afternoon to offer something to the beautiful space. Different groups split up across the campus, to give back to the ground by cleaning, gardening and serving the roots that nourished us. We returned to close the circle, to offer bows of gratitude for the collective intentions around an aged Christmans tree. As I closed my eyes, I was reminded of the evergreen tree standing for everlasting hope, its needle-like leaves pointing heavenwards as all our thoughts should towards goodness. The only way for me to pay this forward, was to cultivate all those intentions in my heart in the new year.
But it didn't just end yesterday. This morning, Siddharth's mother walked towards the dining table and was taken by complete surprise to see her plate decorated with rose petals, inspiring quotes and a little candle. There have been several folks staying over for the retreat the last couple days, and one of them was so moved after yesterday, that they decided to keep the love flowing. As she sat sat teary-eyed over breakfast, she shared how yesterday's closing circle helped her embrace several moments from her relationship with her mother. Almost miraculously, the collective presence had helped heal an emotional struggle in a way she could never have anticipated. In a message that Darpan sent this morning he said yesterday was the first time his mother had spoken in front of so many strangers. As she spoke, he felt deep love for the entire circle who was honoring her presence by listening to what she had to say.
Such is the power of a 'Circle of Giving'. The Labour of Gratitude and all those offerings of smiles, hugs and attention had created micro-moments of transformation. And through that process we cultivated a space so sacred it could hold all our beauty and our vulnerabilities. I'm not sure how the transformation will ripple out - perhaps we'll decorate dining tables in our homes, perhaps we'll be better people at our workplace, perhaps we'll listen a little more deeply to our friends in pain. But what I do have is a little more faith in the strength of our ties of 'Maitri' and to keep walking in the spirit of service.
~ Jai Jagat ~