As I wake up with the first light, I hear the chirping of birds and the crashing of waves on the shore, then I hear the sweet sound of a small bell. Our morning bell ringer is making her rounds, gently letting folks know that the day is beginning.
As I step out of my comfy and spacious tent, I’m presented with a stunning view of the coastline and the surrounding steep green cliffs. I give thanks for all that life is, here at Keanae, with this community of beloveds. I head to the bathhouse for my morning shower, then up to the dining hall for a cup of tea before morning meditation.
When I arrive at the temple, I see many folks already sitting in quiet meditation. Bodhi is there and will soon offer some simple instructions before we go into silence. I’ve often heard him say “meditation is a solitary practice best performed in groups”, and I tend to agree. I do so love to start my day this way, and am so happy for this opportunity to share this practice with others.
After meditation, yoga begins, unless it is Fall Camp, and then it’s usually Qi Gong. Either way the teachers have always been absolutely excellent, and there is always something new for me to learn.
Now I’m ready for breakfast. I head up to the dining hall where a sumptuous feast and the best chai I ever tasted has been prepared just for us. As one of the camp organizers, I take my breakfast at the registration desk, and am so very happy to offer my attention to any campers that are in need of it. Working here is truly a labor of love, and usually turns out to be the best part of camp for me.
If everyone’s needs are taken care of by the end of breakfast, I’m free to head back to the temple for Kirtan, led by Neeraja. Her passion and devotion come shining through the chants and poetry she shares so beautifully. Most all in the community are chanting along with her, with a few folks dancing in the back.
After an hour or so of sublime chanting, we are ready to begin the morning program. The day has already been so rich and delightful, and it’s only just begun….
We usually start the morning program with Dances of Universal Peace led by one or more of our amazing teachers, and accompanied by an outstanding group of extremely talented musicians, most of whom come back year after year.
Eventually the dances give way to an hour or so of teaching. Sometimes it is our beloved Leilah sharing Esoteric Sufi Teachings, other times Bodhi will share his vast wisdom on the topic of Death and Dying, often Bodhi and Leilah will teach together, as they have for years, always managing to keep it fresh. This is also a time when one of our guest teachers may share their particular gifts. One never knows what will come up during this time, but for my taste it is one activity not to be missed.
I have been so impressed by the quality of the teachers that share in our circles year after year. We are truly blessed to have Leilah and Bodhi Be with us at every camp, in addition to the wonderful guest teachers that always seem so delighted to join us for this week of renewal.
Now it’s time for lunch. I’ve usually worked up a big appetite by this time, and am so thrilled at the prospect of a wonderful and healthy meal ready and waiting. I could get used to this…..
I’m also eager to connect with friends both old and new, for checking in, catching up, sharing about the morning’s experiences, meeting new folks, and maybe making plans for the afternoon. Folks seem so very friendly and heartful here. I remember my first camp, just a few years ago. I only new 2 people at camp, and I can be a little shy, but everyone was so welcoming. Each meal I would sit down with a new group of folks, and voila, I had 5 or 6 new friends.
After lunch we have some much needed free time. Some of us may decide to walk over to the arboretum across the street, or down to chang’s pool for a cool dip. Or several of us will get in a car or 2 , or 3 and head to one of the local waterfalls or ocean entries.
The ocean can be pretty rough here, and since I’m not very experienced with this kind of ocean entry I tend to stick to the pools and streams, or go for a quiet walk, letting the events of the day settle into my soul, or better yet, some bodywork in the healing temple…..
I rarely treat myself to bodywork in my daily life, but here at camp I just can’t resist. All the practitioners are so gifted, and it is such a treat to receive this work in the midst of camp, where my heart is already bursting open, and the healing process is working in me on a number of levels. Plus the fact that the fees are about 1/2 or less than the going rate for such high quality work.
In the late afternoon I head back to the temple. Most days we have an afternoon Zikr led by Leilah. This is a favorite activity for many of our Sangha. Leilah has been leading Zikrs for many years and always does an exquisite job, often working with over a 100 of us, skillfully bringing us into divine presence & unity.
As I float on up to the dining hall for dinner, I hear Mo’o playing his bagpipes in honor of the sunset. Yes, I could definitely live like this…..
I often like to clean up a little after dinner, and put on something a little dressy for the evening. I love gathering with all the women in the bath house as we get ready, sharing our experiences and sometimes our toothpaste.
The evening program usually brings more Dances of Universal Peace, though the activities scheduled during this time tend to be more variable. Sometimes there is a teaching time, and one of the nights, usually mid week, we have a Formal Zikr, definitely a camp favorite, which often brings in many others from the greater Maui community.
Then for the night owls, there is often a late night program, either Ecstatic Dance, or Rumi Cafe, where folks are invited to share their many talents. I’ve never actually made it to a Rumi Cafe, it’s a little too late for this early riser, but I hear they can be quite wonderful and cozy. Maybe one day I’ll show up, maybe even share something with this community that I’ve come to love so dearly. But now it’s time for sleep and dreams, for tomorrow is another day in paradise ….