Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Monastic Adega

Hey ho happy summer. While we've been running some lovely retreats this month, it's also been party time in this part of Portugal. Oleiros had its Feira do Pinhal 2012 extravaganza, where for 2 weeks 50,000 people come to our town of normally 4,000 to spend a few evenings with family and friends, shopping at the huge outdoor arts and crafts market, savouring the culinary delights of the local restaurants, listening to 2 stages of live music and watching the local firework company show off their world renowned displays.

And every village for miles also has its own 2 or 3 days of festas where the sounds of accordions resonate through the valleys into the wee hours of the mornings. It's a pity River and I have not been able to revel in this party season as much as the last few years, as we need good restorative sleep to look after, teach and massage our guests here.  Josh and Ellie spent the Feira do Pinhal sleeping over at friend's houses in town, so they were happy dancing til 6am and rising from the dead late in the afternoons.

In a few days all the annual kerfuffle will settle down and we'll return to the quieter rhythms of forest life. But I wanted to put this little season in context. Because at the same time we have also finally finished restoring the last of our stone houses, the Adega where one family in this valley used to make 4000 litrres of wine each year. It is now home to Chris and Anette from Denmark who will be living with us a while to deepen their practice of Suikido. They have worked really hard helping us turn the old Adega into a beautiful sublime monastic living space.

This tablet contains the 3 elements of Suikido. Sui meaning water, fluidity, formlessness. Ki - life force, vitality, spirit. Do - path, way, life practice. Chris found the stone nearby the Adega and painted the characters the other week. As you turn the corner and see the tablet at the base of the stone entrance steps, it looks like it could have always been there. For those who have visited Vale de Moses you'll know that the terraces down by the river and apple orchard have a timeless quality. The rest of the world feels a mighty long way away. The invitation to be still and reflect, resonates in a way that can only be described as "elemental", surrounded as you are by forest, water running over a small fall in the stream and hand carved out bedrock everywhere you look.

With water gravity fed and solar heated on its way from a very old Moorish water mine 200m above the valley, without electricity using only candles and olive oil burning lanterns, a small practice space in the cavernous bed rock basement and 2 futon bed platforms made with wood from the old wine vats.

A big thanks to all our lovely Yoga Helpers, Tammy, Evelyn, Rebecca and Xana who worked so hard in June clearing out the space ready for restoration, and to our neighbour João Antunes and his sons Jorge and Filipe for helping us lay the ochre pigment coloured practice floor and turn the old grape foot pressing tank into an outside shower that doubles as irrigation for the orchard.

So there we have it. After 4 years we have finally finished the restoration of all 4 houses at Vale de Moses. And somehow this last one hints towards the direction that life might be taking here. A little more monastic. Coincidentally (!), in September we hope to also be hosting for a few days 4 more "monks". Nick and Juliette from the UK and 2 Bangladeshi Buddhists on a study trip from a Sri Lankan orphanage where they work. It will be a pleasure to welcome them into our home in the forest.

"A monk (from Greek: μοναχός, monachos, "single, solitary"[1]) is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decided to dedicate his life to serve other living beings or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy." Wikipedia.

A few photos below from our guests here this month. More to be found on our Facebook page. Enjoy.


No comments: