Dear Friends of Abwoon,
Greetings and blessings from Scotland, where Natalia and I again find ourselves at home preparing for today’s Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve). The light has begun to lengthen again, and although the weather has turned cold, we don’t face the types of temperatures that our latitude-neighbours in Moscow and Alaska do. At this time of year, the contrasts of light and darkness, sun and shadow lend themselves to going within. A solo spiritual retreat is calling in a few weeks’ time, and I know from my correspondence that many of you are able to take a similar opportunity during the winter months in the northern hemisphere.
For me, being on retreat is about discovering a different, usually slower, rhythm of awareness than I usually find possible in everyday life. Finding one’s way into and back from these altered states of awareness is something that becomes easier with practice. No amount of practice can command or induce states of grace or inspiration from the Only Being. However, one can prepare oneself to receive them. In this regard, the Aramaic word for “prayer” used by Jesus could really be translated as “making space for” the Holy One.
Practices continue to be useful throughout our spiritual life. One never grows out of them, no matter what “degree” of realisation one reaches. Yes, no one can take away the realisation we have achieved, but more or less of our being can forget it through self-satisfaction. The practices that we have inherited from all of our teachers are an invaluable gift for going within on retreat. Nothing is automatic or guaranteed. As the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart said, “the Path has no road that leads to it but is off any beaten path.” However, our connection to those walking ahead of us on the caravan provides a compass and an astrolabe when wandering in the unexplored wild places of the self. Spiritual practice strengthens that connection to the chain of guidance. Inspiration and vision confirms it.
After the personal retreat time in mid-January, I will be checking in with our Dervish Healing Order family at the annual gathering for initiates in early February led by Murshid Saul Barodofsky near Hamburg, Germany. This event, as well as the annual May open weekend at the same venue, provides an invaluable opportunity to re-connect with our ‘transmission’ family and receive some life-energy for future work.
As a follow up to Murshid Saul’s wonderful visit to Scotland in September of this year, Natalia and I will be leading a Dervish Healing Order weekend here at the same venue September 26-27 entitled “Heartfulness: Clearing and Strengthening the Inner Life.” That event, as well as the one in southern England at Othona in October focused on“Cycles of Life, Cycles of Wisdom,” are open to all. We will also be continuing with weekend two of the three-year healing series in the USA in late October.
Before then, we welcome Pir Shabda Kahn to Allanton Centre in the Scottish Borders February 12-15, where he and I will be sharing a weekend entitled “Becoming a Friend of the Friend” (after a saying by Jelaluddin Rumi). Murshid Tansen O’Donohoe and I will again be sharing three retreats in the UK next year: our annual Dances of Universal Peace and meditation weekend in Crewe in late February, the UK mureeds retreat near Oxford in late August, and an open workshop focused on Sufi music and zikr in Scotland in late November.
This year I will again be teaching the main class at the annual Sufi Ruhaniat European Summer School on the theme “In the Wild Places of Wisdom: Heart, Nature and Embodiment” from June 27 – July 4. For details, as well as audio downloads from past summer schools, go to www.ruhaniateurope.org.
A highlight of the year will be co-leading a retreat with my dear friend Murshida Tasnim Fernandez in Madison, WI, USA November 6-8 on “The Root of the Root: Lifting Veils of Perception through the Dances and Walks.”
Since the publication of The Sufi Book of Life ten years ago, I have continued to dive into the wealth of the many “Beautiful Names” not included in that book. Some of the fruit of this new work will appear in two retreats, one in Charlottesville, VA, USA from April 16-19 entitled “Vectors of Love,” followed by a similar one a few weeks later near Berlin, Germany.
For full details of all of these events, see the Workshops calender in the menu bar above on this site. With the help of webmaster Chris Granger, we have also been able to offer more videos of my Aramaic Jesus work, podcasts of lectures and classes, new notations of Dances of Universal Peace and chants, a column profiling news from around the Abwoon Network by Sharon Abercrombie and my own semi-regular blog (where some of you are undoubtedly reading this). Most of what you find at the site is free, with links to other sites to purchase my books. With the help of many other volunteers including Patricia Hume, Devi Mathieu, Mary Qahira Richardson, Ellen Bush, Subhana Elizabeth Ferrio, Alia Michaels, Richard McMurtry, Katie Shroth, Jivani Joyce Carlson and, of course, the Rev. Elizabeth Reed, we are moving into a new, travelling-lighter profile for the Abwoon Network that frees everyone for new directions in their own creative work.
As thanks for your support over the past year, we are offering a 50% discount on all audio and video paid downloads at site’s store until January 6. Just type in the following code at check-out: NEWYEAR15. (Note, however, that you cannot use this to purchase books through the links to Amazon.)
Before you ask, my own new projects continue to cook, and I hope to have one or two ready to serve in the coming year. Inshallah!
From the Abwoon Network, we wish you and your communities a hopeful and healthy New Year, and as the light returns again, a year full of creative, compassionate life energy.
Yours in peace,