We are delighted to have more and more families coming to MorningSun, with children from tiny babies to teens, for picnics, weekends, and retreats. When we see young ones learn to listen to the sound of the bell, or sleep on their parents laps during meditations, or teens asking to attend dharma talks and offering meditations for younger children, we see the practice taking root in the future.
Summer All Ages Retreat
Our teens again had an amazing program with self-care, games, deliveries to appreciation mailboxes, and opportunities for deeper sharing. They choreographed and performed a moving dance about girls having a strong voice. They were inspired by women like Malala Yousafzai, the youngest woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for girls rights to an education.
The children opened the Ceremony of Compassion with a colorful performance based on the story of young Siddhartha protecting a swan, including a jubilant traditional circle dance.
Through sitting meditation, singing, creating, laughing, playing, cooking, and being together in mindfulness, we watched the children grow their confidence, resilience, joy and connection with one another.
Quarterly Family Retreats
These retreats offer time for everyone to care for their hearts and bodies with yoga, relaxation, meditation practice and seasonal activities celebrating the Earth. There is also time for parents to connect and reflect on parenting, and for children to enjoy playing and building dharma friendships.
If you peeked in on the Fall Family Retreat, you would have seen us practicing deep relaxation in the afternoon sun under apple trees, making apple sauce, picking veggies and cooking “stone soup” on an open fire. With golden lanterns, we did walking meditation by moonlight and sang songs about gathering our inner light before winter.
We also made “seed watering” jars. Families sat together to think of activities or qualities they want to “grow” in their family, like laughter or kindness. Then they wrote these on white seeds and placed them in a jar. Families shared that they enjoyed doing this practice when they got home, shaking their jars and picking a seed together.
Our Winter Family Retreat found us in the forest making gratitude offerings to our maple trees, and learning how to tap and collect the fresh sap. In the evening we boiled syrup outside. Huddled around the fire in sugary mists, we tasted the fresh “maple tea” and sang.
Our First Educators Retreat with Valerie Brown and Richard Brady
Over 40 people from all over the country and beyond attended this wonderful retreat. It was specially designed for educators, and offered a Plum Village Wake Up Schools Level 1 certification.
The retreat was very rich, with deep reflections about caring for teachers and students in the face of many challenges. Teachers and administrators were able to refresh themselves, and gain new insights and practices to bring back to their staff and students.
Highlights from Other Programs
The new Sacred Singing Retreat was led by five artists who shared teachings and music from Jewish, Indigenous, Christian, Folk, Yogic, Celtic, and Buddhist traditions. The music moved us to rise up for justice, open to the divine, celebrate our interconnection, and center in the heart of ourselves. These sacred songs inspired a feeling of connection with people from different traditions around the world.
Our Solstice Spiral Walk and Tea celebrated the season of light with friends from all around New England. The hall was full, with more than 65 people, ages 1 to 91, who came to sing and offer prayers.
Our first ever Women’s Retreat created space for healing, celebration and deep sharing about our lives as women.
“The theme of the retreat focused on our ancestors. This helped me start the healing process with my grandmother. I left with my heart full of gratitude, hope and wonder. Can’t wait to go back and spend time with my new sisters again.” – Freedom Rivera
This year we started our first DSA (Dana Supported Agriculture). Residents offered their time and resources to expand our farming space, opening up many beds in the larger field and installing irrigation.
The farm team, Merrilee, Candace, Honey Bear and Michael, combined organic farming, ecology, and mindfulness in this new project.
At this time of uncertainty and distancing from one another, it was very healing to put our hands in the Earth and work outside together.
In addition to vegetables we planted new fruit trees, thanks to special Mother’s Day tree donations, as well as perennial asparagus, strawberries and some medicinal plants.
We can’t wait for you all to come enjoy the farm with us next year!
Sustaining Member Circle of Bodhisattvas
A small and wise development team has created a new way to help our larger community connect with the retreat center, by inviting friends to become sustaining members of our Circle of Bodhisattvas. One can greatly aid our collective dreams by contributing financial resources on a monthly basis, and in turn, ensuring a bright future for the healing spaces we have been working hard to manifest here.
You can visit our web site morningsuncommunity.org to become a sustaining member.
Staying Connected during Covid
It has been a joy to stay connected with our community through online Days of Mindfulness.
It lifts our spirits to see each others’ faces and to realize we can continue to build our community and care for each other by connecting online.
These one day retreats have been well attended, with 50-100 participants, and have made it possible to enjoy being with friends who live far away.
Many attendees have sent messages of gratitude for the Days of Mindfulness. We appreciate being able to offer these opportunities to practice together.
Opening the Barn and offering so many new retreats was only possible because of the many generous offerings from friends near and far.
We offer our deep gratitude to all these friends: to those who made donations, MorningSun residents, MLS and MSIO participants who diligently put in long days, residents who cooked for us, and many wonderful friends who came to volunteer.
It was a true joy to work together to build this peaceful refuge, and to laugh plenty at ourselves as we learned to use things like nail guns and spackle trowels!
The majority of MorningSun programs are offered through the volunteer efforts of residents and local friends. Out of their love for the practice, they do everything from cleaning, to organizing, to leading activities. With deep gratitude, we thank them all. In particular, we thank Sara Henry, Laurie Rabut and David Viafora, who helped with coordination, and Honey Bear, who volunteered to cook delicious food for most of the retreats!