“The call to the desert is also a call to pilgrimage. It gives us access to an inner world which can be the discovery of our true selves. The heart may discover that the constricting boundaries around it were its own creation. The heart can say ‘I know’ with a knowledge that emerges from layers of experience and wisdom. It can afford to make sacrifices which don’t result in pleasure or gratification, but yield a deep sense of gravity and belonging to a reality which exceeds all its hopes. The desert allows us to discover the sacred in life…”
A dear friend shared this when I recently returned from the white deserts in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. I was in Mumbai, planning to goto Pune for a small walking pilgrimage but then I received a phone call from Jayesh Bhai to come for this Trip. There are some people you cannot refuse for the sheer love and wisdom in their requests, and Jayesh Bhai is one of those in my life. Canceling all previous engagements, breaking some promises, Sheetal and I left Mumbai on an overnight bus to Ahmedabad. After 13 hour bumpy road ride we reached early morning to Ahmedabad and immediately boarded the waiting car towards Bhuj city. There were 8 of us, all got together with that unexpected call from Jayesh Bhai.
Bhaskar – bird lover, talented photographer and head chef in Seva cafe, Neil Patel – A stanford grad, started voice based company Awaaz de, and a football coach to kids in the slum, Malay Shodhan – Senior manager in Intel but heart always finding ways to do service, Nimo Patel– A rap rockstar using music for positive change, Sheetal Sanghvi – A finance grad who turned his home to a community center to support other people’s journeys, Abhay – Our young driver, with a young spirit, always ready to pose for camera and Jayesh Bhai – our elder brother with immense love always following his heart instincts.
There was nothing special on our selection, an intuitive decision like several of our other previous pilgrimages and thus none of us could say no to the call. Car ride to Bhuj is 8 hours, we stopped in Mukesh Bhai’s organic farm to witness a very remarkable community effort to move towards holistic sustainable living. Met the local farmers who excitedly shared their experiments in organic farming and local wisdom. Our next stop was Abhiyan center started by Sandeep Bhai and Sushma didi in Bhuj. We were welcomed with showers of rose petals and warm embraces, it all felt like a dream and my heart opened tremendously during the circle of sharing as most of them shared how a moved by retreat had transformed their lives. The maitri circles we had imagined seemed in reality here. It was a great opportunity for us to see the ripples of our retreats and experience the extension of global family. Choked with tears we all felt immensely grateful for this noble friendship.
Next we visited Dhordo village and experienced the magnificent Rann Utsav in the full moon. I was carrying my video camera and found a renewed sense of enthusiasm as I captured what unfolded naturally. I will be making a short film from this trip, without a script, knowing that a story chooses us, allowing it to flow and let it emerge through us.
If I had to share Three things I learnt, briefly it will be
1. Every moment is an opportunity to connect with others and yourself, through small practices of care.
2. The vastness of desert taught me patience and the full moon invited me to shine my brightest light.
3. Trust your intuition, there’s an arrangement in life and every moment is interconnected with a grand design of our existence.
I have stopped looking for extraordinary experiences, each moment could be sacred with our awareness and in the end all that matters is our presence.
In growing towards that presence today
A detailed Blog with experiences of others is posted here.