Where Dust Prevails

In two days I’ll be heading west for a six-week Sahavas, a spiritual retreat. It’s not the kind of retreat where beautiful specimens of humanity drop grapes into your mouth, soak your feet in exotic scents, melt your muscles in a hot stone massage, and wrap you in lusciously soft bath sheets steeped in soothing essential oils while you focus on all the wonderful things in life you deserve.

It’s not the kind of retreat where creature comforts are provided in luxurious elegance:  900 count sheets, fine gourmet foods served at your whim, multiple spas, games and myriad other forms of entertainment awaiting your command.

Nope. This is the kind of retreat where dust prevails. It’s in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The temperatures can be surprisingly cold, as in hailing; and wet, as in a weekend of torrential rain – both unlikely but have happened. On bone-dry windy days you know what it would feel like to be dropped into fine cornmeal before frying, especially when you are covered in the grease of sweat brought on by scathing heat. If you’re not accustomed to heat and it’s 108 degrees F, you might wonder how life could possibly continue. But, thank heaven, you’re lucky enough to just miss the paths of a thousand spontaneous forest fires begun by heat lightning!

This is the kind of retreat where 6 will share one small, dated bathroom. But that will be a fortunate luxury in comparison to the great many campers who make due with portapotties and one flush toilet. More important, it’s the kind of retreat where instead of focusing on worldly activities and acquisitions the focus is on silent listening to the internal communication with God.

An atmosphere prevails that words alone cannot describe; it is something to be experienced. It comes quietly, as if it has always been there (which it has, but the doors and windows were never so open before.) One moment you’re hurrying to complete a necessary task (there’s a small group of volunteers who take care of the tasks.) And in another moment you realize something big just shifted. It might occur all at once in a nanosecond, or over time. But there it is.

It is an atmosphere of Love that, at times, has filled me in such a way that nothing was wanting, and I wanted nothing. There was only the completeness of the timeless present, in the timeless Silence of God’s presence. This marks a sharp contrast to my normal limited personality-self. And I begin to see what inner patches of mine need weeding or healing.

Last year I left with a couple of major themes, mostly about following the heart and not second-guessing it. And another that was more difficult to grasp:  Truth goes beyond right and wrong. To a mind that is quick to analyze, that was a stunning concept. I had some silent conversations with God over it. I’ve come to realize it is not a concept. It goes beyond concepts.

Concepts, ideologies, cause families to fight over points of view and keep nations at war. This statement tells me Truth goes beyond opposite opinions. What a challenge to find the place within that can let go of attachment to being on the right side, in order to uncover something greater than either side.

I look forward to this internal, six-week journey. I will try to post here at Moving from the Inside Out during that time, but I’m not making any promises. Let us see what happens! May your life journey be intoxicated by the divine wine of life:  the silent gift of infinite, unconditional Love.

Question for You:   What fills your heart and soul?

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11 Responses to “Where Dust Prevails”

  1. Megan Says:

    And in the absense of hope, learning there are energies that carry you along when you most need it.)

    “Are you Looking for Me?”

    “Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
    My shoulder is against yours.
    You will not find me in Indian shrine rooms,
    not in synagogues, not in cathedrals,
    not in masses nor sacred songs.
    not in legs winding around your own neck,
    nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
    When you really look for me, you will see me instantly.
    You will find me in the tiniest house of time.
    Kabir says, “Student, tell me, what is God?”
    He is the breath inside the breath.”


  2. Megan Says:

    I am glad you enjoyed it, I thought this message would appeal to you.

    (Especially as you prepare for time in the desert with all of those purifying winds.)

    There always is a breath inside the breath. It is a mystery.

    Have a wonderful retreat.

    Thank you for your astute guidance.


    • Mary Marino-Strong Says:

      Ahh, the mystery, Megan. The breath that is the Source of all breaths, within the breath. Like the ocean of which we are the bubbles. I love how you connect in this way. Thanks for your wishes – astute guidance? Nah. I’ve been lucky to have had amazing teachers and guides along the way; if I can share a smidgeon of what they shared I will be happy. Btw, it’s not exactly desert. There’s more greenery than a desert would support, but any area that doesn’t have some type of shrubbery, and pathways without gravel are extremely dusty. Thanks for the image of purifying winds. I like it better than nuisance winds!

  3. Kendra Says:

    Mary, I wish you lots of new breakthroughs on your inner journey. The program sounds very interesting. I also agree with your concept that truth doesn’t know right or wrong. I hadn’t really thought about that before, but I can certainly accept its validity.

    So do you have discussions, lectures, any sort of structured programs? Or is it all internal meditation and living?

    • Mary Marino-Strong Says:

      Thanks for your good wishes, Kendra; may your wish come true, I love new breakthroughs! Not so much discussions or lectures. We will have a guest who gives talks, usually in the form of stories, once or twice most days. There’s a fairly set time for family-style dinner (everyone pitches in the prep and clean-up in an open-air kitchen.) That’s the extent of the structuring. There’s no meditation per se but rather meditation in action, i.e. one’s internal focus while living, as you say. But that is up to the individual. There is a very special cabin that is lovely for spending quiet meditative/contemplative time, as well as any of the paths, along the creek etc. It’s near Yosemite so very beautiful. On my return I look forward to reading more of your blog, Women’s Memoirs.

      • Kendra Says:

        Are you on or near the Merced River? That’s a beautiful spot in the Yosemite area. Have a wonderful time. And we’ll have a lot of new material posted here upon your return. K

      • Mary Marino-Strong Says:

        It’s on the AquaFria Creek. I’ve been to the Merced River and agree it’s very beautiful. Again, thanks for your good wishes. Look forward to more of your blog, one of the most informative.

  4. Susan J. Tweit Says:

    May your time be blessed in many ways, not least by being embraced and enriched by the community of that beautiful place–human and wild. Travel well and stay open to whatever comes…

    • Mary Marino-Strong Says:

      Thank you, Susan – indeed this will be a time of enrichment, of being embraced by not only this beautiful place, human and wild, but their Source as well. As you say ‘stay open to whatever comes’ I have been taking that in in a deeper, more significant way, having gotten the inner nudge that it’s not necessary to plan everything to within an inch of my life. Rather, the journey and its intimacy reveal themselves more when I am present in the moment, receptive to its silent whisper instead of attached to my plans. I will take a different view of the rattlers and the bear that are in the vicinity, and other forms of wildlife, due to your beautiful, expansive example! You and Richard are in my heart.

  5. Wendyl Wason Says:

    You are a lovely writer and you so beautifully capture the soul and mystery of that special place. I wish we could go, but it doesn’t seem to be working out this time. It was great being with you in Fort Wayne last month and I look forward to your posts about your experience in Meherana.

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