On Friday the 26th of October 2012, the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network (MPIN) hosted a silent retreat at the Brahma Kumaris Retreat Centre in South Frankston. The theme of the retreat was “One World: People of many faith traditions coming together in shared prayer and meditation to reflect on compassion and peace.”
Twenty-eight people joined the two-day retreat, including many from various interfaith networks across the State. Hans Christiansen (President of MPIN) and Jacqueline Russell (Director of the Brahma Kumaris Centre) welcomed us warmly into the beautiful space of the Retreat Centre, gathering us before the evening meal in the large downstairs meeting room with views into the garden. Here we remembered the original indigenous people of the area with respect, and were pleased to have our indigenous friends Bernie and Helen with us. This time was followed by introducing ourselves and then, as it was Friday evening, our Jewish representative Bruce Levin spoke about his tradition of welcoming the Sabbath with a special meal. He lit the Sabbath candles, and sang a blessing. Amina Salerno spoke about Eid al-Adha and the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca which was coming to an end that weekend.
Later we shared a lovely vegetarian meal and enjoyed talking with each other around the table. The evening session was led by Jill Manton, who introduced the theme and led us into silence. Jill led two other sessions the next day which further developed the theme of the retreat; one reflecting on unity and diversity and holding the creative tension of these in shared silence, sacred space, meditation; and the other exploring home and belonging in the context of our shared life on this planet. In each session there was time for silent prayer for the world - the natural environment and all living creatures as well as the human family.We came out of silence in time for a late afternoon tea with more time to speak to one another about our retreat experiences.
Early morning yoga (with Baxter), several sessions of silent group meditation, a meditative walk around the 6 acre retreat property and some significant rituals were all part of the time we spent together. It was a refreshing time for everyone.