SIM New Year’s Retreat 2021/2022 Reflections on the New Years retreat by Di Pelletier
SIM New Year Retreat 2021 2021 was the year this retreat finally made it back to the Brahma Kumaris beautiful retreat venue in Wilton! Bush fires had pushed it to Zoom in 2019 and COVID followed suit in 2020. Thanks go to SIM organiser Alan Bassal who had many discussions with the Brahma Kumaris, Jill and I to pull it together in a safe format. Despite concerns with international travel and Omicron, Jill Shepherd with great effort made it here and the retreat proceeded. COVID management was in full swing at the BKs and all retreatants were double vaccinated and RAT tested before or on arrival. The hall was well ventilated and other spaces were used to help maintain social distancing. The weather was kind, allowing lots of outside time. Masks were worn when moving about inside. Always popular, this retreat was full with 25 attending. As a precaution one person left on Day One because she turned out to have been a casual contact aand needed to self-isolate. She didn’t develop Covid but was able to follow the retreat in Sydney using the excellent resources on-line uploaded by Jill after every session.
On New Year’s Eve, we gathered for a lovely ritual involving water, fire and flowers, creatively using both indoor and outdoor settings that the BK venue offers. To fulfill government requirements, Jill had to find herself a PCR test on New Years Day, not an easy task in a semi-rural area! Using 2 recorded talks meant that the retreat stayed exactly on schedule during her absence. A Huntsman spider decided to learn to meditate one morning, dropping in unexpectedly from the ceiling, but was speedily removed. Because of the lavish rainfall the grounds were in full bloom. As a bonus the BKs were given a donation of 20 or so native plants, so on the second last day, some of the retreat gardeners chose to plant these in the areas they had cleared of weeds, and they intend to look for them on their return for their next retreat! The teaching was meticulously planned, tailored to the range of experience in the group, and delivered according to the progress of the group, as well as being recorded and uploaded to Dharmaseed for our future use. All are characteristics we associate with Jill, who is one of our most experienced and popular teachers. Every participant had two individual meetings with Jill for practice guidance. The 2021 retreat proves that with careful planning, wise behaviour (and a bit of luck) we can, as they say “live with COVID”! Stay well and get vaccinated!