On Friday the 7th of October 2016, the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network (MPIN) hosted its sixth annual silent retreat at the beautiful Brahma Kumaris Retreat Centre in South Frankston. The theme of the retreat was “The Well of Being".Thirty- two people from different faith traditions attended and it was a time of renewal for all of us in one way or another.
We began with a time of welcome and meeting each other, sharing something of our hopes for this time together. After a delicious meal, we moved into the first session where we were led by Reverend Jill Manton who invited us to engage with the theme of the retreat, “The Well of Being, ” and to share the personal symbols which we had brought with us. She then led us in a reflection on the theme and on into deep silence. The beautiful visual symbol of the well of living water, held our attention in this also. Carla Whitley brought the session to a close with her meditative harp music and we left for our rooms in deep quietness.
The following morning began with gentle yoga led by Julia Pugh followed by a meditation time led by Reverend Chikwong Sunim. Sharing breakfast in silence deepened our awareness of each other and our surrounds in new ways and we found ourselves ready for the next session with Kalvinder Shields who led us further in to silence and deep meditation, followed by Carla playing her harp softly.
Later in the morning, we were delighted to be led again by Aboriginal elder Uncle Lionel Lauch and his niece Carla. We shared a smoking ceremony, didgeridoo meditation and a meditative walk around the extensive grounds of the property. Inside again, we participated in the making of a totem pole under Lionel’s instructions. Everyone had one hand painted and the imprint of this was placed on the branch of the tree which lay across the table in front of us. The whole ritual took place in a moving silence and the totem, representing our time together, will be placed in the garden as a memory of the retreat we shared. After personal quiet time, we met for lunch and Reverend Jenni Georgiadis and Sister Jacqueline Russell led us in a ritual linked with the overall theme as we shared another meal in silence. After a significant period for personal reflection, we met again for the final session and coming out of silence.
Jill Manton led us in reflecting on what we had experienced, Jenni Georgiadis made us laugh as we participated in a ritual to bring us out of silence and Carla Whitley played her harp as we moved to afternoon tea and time to converse together before leaving. Carla and Lionel gave an unplanned spontaneous musical item playing the harp and digeridoo together in the sunshine outside. Another retreat had finished.