THE LAMP OF THE MESSAGE
A Journal for the International Community of Cherags
The recent leader’s training and retreat in Sierraville, California was truly a memorable experience. I last was able to attend this annual event in 1990 at the Abode and at that time I attended as a Cherag candidate. This year, though, there was a very wonderful feeling circulating through the camp. There seems to be such a surge of energy within the Sufi Order as a whole. Our dear Seraj, Most Reverend Prajapati O’Neill began the leader’s training with presentation of a paper that stimulated a great deal of desire for an open dialog. Unfortunately, this format was not built into the week, but I did notice as I travelled from table to table at mealtimes, that there was much dialog going on. I saw such beauty in people! As I reflected upon the different concentration leader’s presentations, I could really feel this sense of a revitalization going on. The healing order is moving ahead now under the guidance of Himayat Inayati, and there is a Healing in Our Time Symposium scheduled in North Carolina in May 1995. The retreat concentration is looking at new ways to offer retreats that answer the need which Pir Vilayat feels for a “rehearsal for life” rather than a retreat from it. Ziraat has also been experiencing an increase in inquiries and membership.
The Universal Worship training was one of the highlights of the week for me. Ten people participated in the training. Some were Cherags already, some were candidates, and some came because of a deep longing in their soul to see if this was their next step. We built a beautiful altar using pine cones for candles (due to the extreme fire hazard in California, no flames were allowed) and stones for the sacred scriptures. These “substitutions” seemed so perfect. Oftentimes in wilderness living, certain pine cones are used to start fires because of their heavy resin content. Rocks have always felt to me to be sacred keepers of the history of our existence. Every time I have participated in the sacred ceremony of the sweat lodge, I have always felt that when the rocks are brought in I am welcoming my grandmothers and grandfathers. How appropriate that our altar contained all these living beings!
It was interesting in that the first day of our training we met in a place in the woods which was located downhill from the path and most everyone was unable to get comfortable. The second day we were blessed to be able to share in the Dances of Universal Peace training as Prajapati had to participate in the esoteric training that afternoon. I was so happy that we had this opportunity, as I feel there is a very special affinity between the Universal Worship and the Dances of Universal Peace. Reverend Tasnim Fernandez is an incredible teacher and when Prajapati joined us it felt so right for us to all finish the training session together. There was a special sense of sacred camaraderie between all of us. The third day of training Prajapati found an exquisite site located uphill from the path that gave us a great view of the area, and in many ways lifted us up. We had reached a new vista! The winds could be felt blowing through the trees as if whispering Quddus, Quddus, over and over again.
Our last day of training was so full and we all shared from some very deep creative places within us. We touched each other’s hearts and lives in such authentic ways. To me that is what this path, this journey in my life is all about. Such beauty! Such heartsoulfullness! Al- hamdu-Lillah!! May you be blessed and be able to attend this event next year.