Tasmania is a small region having only two groups with about 25 devotees. Nevertheless, it has been holding annual spiritual retreats for the last 30 years. Normally these are held over a 3-day weekend and have proven to be a wonderfully uplifting occasion that has been instrumental in keeping the groups connected and establishing a close-knit Sai family.
This year the retreat was held over the weekend 9 – 12 March at a scout camp beside the beautiful Tamar River. The theme chosen was ‘Be the ONE You Are’ with Doug Saunders, the Australian Deputy Central Coordinator as our guest speaker.
Twenty-nine devotees attended the retreat including 10 from interstate, several of whom had attended previous retreats with us.
The program included several sessions devoted to exploring the theme. These included, amongst other items, an interactive session devoted to the Legacy of Love left by our dear Sathya Sai Baba; a workshop on Recognising the Self through Self-love and Forgiveness and discussion groups on the retreat theme and on the devotional song ‘Love is My Form’. Whilst this song was composed about Sai Baba, He later pointed out that the song was also about us. As such it was an excellent topic for exploring the retreat theme. One of the devotees, Peter Morgan, provided a nice aside for this item by recounting the actual circumstances of the composition of the song. Peter was one of the group of Westerners who was present when it was composed and first sung for Sai. Sharing of Doug and his wife, Seiglinde’s experiences and journeys was another delightful session. A Sunday evening concert, come amateur-hour was also a fun-filled and informal item that all enjoyed.
Early morning meditation and devotions, devotional singing sessions, Light Meditation and other sessions complemented the program and ensured there was a variety of approaches and experiences that catered for the different aspects of spirituality and the spiritual path that appealed to the different concerns of the devotees.
To make the most of the weekend, each year we encourage the participants to consider something that is apparently a hindrance on their spiritual journey and ask Sai to help them leave this behind, and in its place take something away that can be seen as a positive step in the journey. We have a closing ceremony to make this undertaking more concrete and significant.
Once again, the retreat was blessed by Sai in the way in which all interacted with love and happiness, experiencing an inspiring, memorable and fruitful weekend. Despite all the uncertainties of conducting such a weekend, especially considering our small numbers and the depth of the program, we have always noticed Sai Baba’s hand in all stages of planning and its fruition.
We find that despite all the effort needed to run such a retreat, it is all worthwhile with all chipping in to help and smiles aplenty. The retreats are the high-light of our year and we always get a tremendous charge of love, connection and inspiration from them. Small groups may have their challenges, but where there is a will, Sai steps in and helps along the way.