Thursday, September 4, 2008

In the first autumn rains, blackberries for breakfast

The rains began yesterday and everything has been washed clean ready for a new season here in Zion. Today was my housekeeping day at Bacelo and as I strolled back from the compost heap, I stopped to take moment in front of a bush laden with ripe juicy and freshly rain washed blackberries. As it was time for second breakfast, I proceeded to steadily stuff my face full of dozens of sweet little wild berries. Yet another in a long list of experiences that remind me, in this new life of ours, with all of its challenges and difference to the lifestyle we had in London, I lack nothing. We lack nothing. We still have scars as evidence of our long and continuing battle with these viscious brambles, but today the enemy became the provider and friend. Ironically, all I had to do to reap the rewards of their generous offering, was simply leave them alone. After feasting, I stood utterly content with all that God has, is and will provide. Who'd have thought such profundity existed in a blackberry? Bless.

Three stories to tell you today. The first is of circus fairies mingling with folk dancers. The second is the arrival of the 5 starrers. Finally, the magic of St Pedro de Moel.

Our beloved friends Shanti B, Marcia and Ton came over this week from their place in Fundao. We have a cute arrangement with those guys. When it all gets too much for them, they nip over for a few days rest with us. Vice versa, when its time for a fresh perspective we go to the Mount of Oaks to soak up the goodness of their emerging community. Anyway, 2 weeks ago we popped over to theirs to join in with the final night of a community week they were running in their local village, including a prayer room, seminars from voluntary groups, graffiti and circus-act workshops and a weekend party in the open air sports arena. The stunning spectacle of this finale was in the diversity of the people and the cultures they unashamedly expressed. The usual traditional Portuguese folk music, with local singers, dancers and drummers were beautifully mixed together with Barbara’s crowd of tattoo wearing, free spirited dancers and fire jugglers from Belgium, France, England, Africa, America and Israel. The village had never seen anything like it. Nor had we. It was gorgeous. And to know it had all been orchestrated by Shanti B in close partnership with the local Mayor and Catholic priest just added to the inimitability of the whole thing. Kids want to go back regularly for circus lessons. We said they could. Watch this space.

The next is an interesting tale of a clash of ideology that has reinforced our resolve and clarified our direction. We invited another yoga teacher to come and stay with us. She is a well known one with a successful retreat business who has made it into one magazine’s top 10 yoga experiences in the world. Quite an achievement. So we were really looking forward to spending a few days with her. However it didn’t quite go to plan. She arrived with her boyfriend after spending a couple of nights in a 5 star hotel in Lisbon and dressed to the nines as if they had both just walked off a film set. By comparison, we spend most of days fairly scruffy round the edges with layers of dirt normally caked to our sweaty skins. Anyhow, to cut a long story short, half an hour later they were both walking back up the hill, back to their hired car, off to find somewhere not so “basic” as our home! To us this life of ours, and the things we are building with our own hands, are both incredibly beautiful and precious. But not everyone sees it. We know that. It became crystal clear that the guests we would really like to attract are those interested in exploring what they can learn from this type of living and from the new skills that we’re learning everyday. There are hundreds of other retreats in the world where those not so interested can get the pampering they feel more comfortable with. Don’t mistake me. We’ll do luxurious too. But in a new way. One which nourishes our souls and connects us to the deeper rhythms of life. Again, watch this space.

And so to St Pedro de Moel. A little town on the coast of Portugal near Leiria between Lisbon and Coimbra. We were invited there last weekend by the one and only Raquel to spend a few days with her Mum and good friends Rosarinho, Rita, Duarte, Alice & Nelsa +++. These guys had spent many of their childhood summers growing up with each other in this most magical of resorts. Set in thousands of acres of breathtakingly splendid Pine forests, with its own Lighthouse (a possible contender for Raquel's Zion name one day) and quaint seaside town streets, promenades, cafés and bars, families return year after year to reconnect to the place and to each other, play all day in the sea and all night in the clubs. Thanks Raquel. Now we know why your heart always smiles at only the mention of the name St Pedro de Moel. We’ll be back.

Alice & Nelsa singing a few Brazilian numbers in Bambi, the coolest bar in St Pedro de Moel

That’s all for now as my Mum and Dad arrived yesterday from London so we’re off to spend the evening with them. I'll fill you in on how they get on and do a renovations update in the next episode. I'd like to leave you with this photo of one of the many public fountains in our local city of Castelo Branco where there's a water garden and sculptural park that's featured in the very recently published "Gardens of Portugal" book. A book in which one day I hope our Zion gardens will be featured in too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So nice to read of your doings and livings and experiencings... so glad Baba, Marcia and Ton could come and find rest with you all after busy times in the village :o). Isaac and I really enjoyed meeting you all and our fam will welcome you all whenever you want to come to the Lisbon area...
Blessings and all of God's goodness,