The Sweet Longing

Summer Solstice 2011

Long days
Infused with light, color, sound
Lush green
Flowers and bird song

Hard to imagine the darkness of winter

Yet underneath this celebration
An emptiness waits
Longing to be filled

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a wet spring

Taking Time to Feel the Longing

Ah, the longing – a relentless yearning for our heart’s desire.

Many of us live within a culture which defines progress solely in terms of material comfort and offers little wisdom for the perennial unrest of the heart. We try to fill this vacancy inside with food, sweets, intoxicants, stimulants, possessions, wealth, fame, and endless dramas. Our holy grail is romantic love filled with passionate sexuality. And as each fix fades into the veneer of memory, we keep searching for the next.

The truth is that, despite an affluence and material abundance unprecedented in human history, most of us in the developed world are starving. We simply have not found a way to address our emotional and spiritual needs beyond drowning them out with denial or over-stimulation. The spirituality we are offered through the traditional church or temple is often defined by antiquated superstitions which bear little relevance to our life here and now. And our real religion of science, though it has given us a remarkable handle on our physical world, has nothing to say about our hunger for meaning and purpose. The natural yearning that comes with being human is largely misunderstood, displaced by our frantic efforts to establish more material security and comfort.

Western culture is spreading now throughout much of the world due to the zealous conquering of our European ancestors and the relentless seduction of modern day corporate advertising. Yet as we gallantly proffer the “good life” to our less fortunate neighbors, some of us are becoming increasingly aware of the shadows inherent in our model of civilization. We see the cracks in the wall and rightfully question the sustainability and wisdom of our approach to development.

Amidst this gaping lack of deeper wisdom in industrialized societies a new spirituality is being born, inspired by ancient teachings from cultures around the world. A doorway opened in the cultural upheavals of the 1960’s that allowed some light to shine into the shadows of Western civilizations insatiable drive for material advancement.

This ancient wisdom re-packaged for the “new age” is naturally marginalized by main-stream society just as all radically new movements of truth have been throughout human history. Consider how Galileo was mocked and imprisoned for suggesting that the planets in our solar system revolve around the sun, Columbus was ridiculed for his assertion the earth was round, and Jesus was disgraced and crucified for saying that he was one with God.

Today we know that these seers were telling the truth and we celebrate them as heroes, along with many others who were once considered too far out to be taken seriously. So we can justifiably assume that this strange spirituality incubating in the midst of our frantic industrial development will one day be the basis of a new paradigm for humanity. The new forms are slowly developing and spreading like mushroom mycelia, those invisible strands weaving a fabric below the forest floor. And occasionally, when the conditions permit, they flower into sight, just as a perfect mushroom appears suddenly where there was nothing before.

Sky Meadow Retreat is one such mushroom blooming in the hills of northern Vermont. Incubated 22 years ago when I purchased this broken down hill farm, and born in 1999 in time to usher in the new century, the seeds for the retreat were planted in the mid-1970’s as my life was radically transformed in a Buddhist monastery in Sri Lanka.

Now a small family business, we see ourselves as catalysts for the transformation of humanity being called forth from the chaos of a world which is largely in denial of our real human potential. We have chosen to practice and teach a simple Buddhist meditation form that cultivates presence and inner peace, and a set of skills for meaningful relationships that we call Conscious Communication. These are some of the practical tools that we consider essential for our personal and planetary evolution.

We are also establishing a sustainable relationship with the earth through organic farming and forest management. When we are not serving guests on retreat, we spend our time in our gardens, orchards, and woods, cultivating as much of our food and winter fire wood as we can from the natural resources around us, while becoming intimate with this land that we call home.

In addition to teaching basic skills for developing presence, the purpose of Sky Meadow is to provide a place of stillness enabling you to feel again the deep longing tugging at your heart. This urge for truth can so easily be obscured beneath the pressures of daily life, and most of us rarely take time to allow it to bubble to the surface. Beyond any focus or teaching presented here is simply an opportunity to come back to your senses and get in touch with what is most important in your life. This may take the form of unanswered questions that loom larger than any one problem, and for which there are is no immediate fix.

We are not here to answer these questions for you, as that would be impossible. Rather, our intention is to provide a sacred space where you can explore these questions for yourself, and begin to discover the peace and certainty that lies beneath all the swirling complexity of your life. In the quiet of nature, the things that are most important become apparent, and you can realign yourself with what you most want. We invite you to visit us for a workshop or retreat, a self-directed solo, or private couples retreat.


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