Joyfully Together Mobile Retreat 2016
What a privilege and honor it was to be a part of this mobile retreat with Trish Thompson and Michael Melancon! Their carefully planned itinerary maximized our experience by flowing each activity seamlessly into the next. Every meal, destination, and event was a feast for the taste buds, eyes, and consciousness. Trish and Michael's loving kindness, joy, knowledge, and wise words, left me feeling refreshed, renewed, and with a greater understanding of myself and the world around me.
Trish worked hard to present an overall balanced experience. We started in Saigon and then made our way up the coast also spending time in Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, and Ha Long Bay. Throughout this journey, I learned a great deal about the joys, suffering, and healing of the Vietnamese people. To prepare for the trip, I was given a recommended reading list that I greatly enjoyed and appreciated. Through these texts, I learned more about Thay, the areas we would be visiting, and what life was like during the Vietnam War. This allowed me to better absorb and understand my experiences. We actually met with two of the authors...amazing individuals! Spending time and interacting with the people are among my most cherished memories. Their kindness, generosity, hospitality, strength, and work ethic are truly inspiring.
So many moments left lasting impressions that I still am processing and contemplating...
Verdant landscapes (particularly the blooming lotuses)
Hearing the morning chant and meditating
My cow encounter while bicycling in the rice paddies
Being part of the hustle and bustle of the streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter
Meeting a group of amputees and learning about unexploded live ammunition left from the war
Sponsoring young school students and meeting them as well as their grateful teachers and principals
Hiking Yen Tu Mountain
The days of mindfulness at Thay's root temple and Thien Vien Truc Lam Tri Duc
Every moment with the wonderful members of my group including a young Vietnamese assistant, who graciously adjusted my American point of view
Each bite of every meticulously prepared and beautifully presented meal
There are so many other moments I have not listed, but I see the list is getting too long!
Feeling awake and present, I loved everything about this incredible retreat. Traveling as a Sangha... What an exceptional way to experience the history, spirituality, and culture of a country. First words that come to mind... More please!