At the morning of writing and editing this journal a new construction worker arrived. He had heard of this place and was curious to see what our ‘iglesia’ looked like, as his Orthodox Romanian colleague put it. The man came from Morocco and was impressed by the elegant simplicity of our meditation hall. “¿De qué religión eres? he asked. An interesting question, as all religions point to the same essence. So I told him: “The people who come here are not of one specific religion. We are simply Human beings, sharing in the same essence.” “Like us Muslims!”, he said. “Aren’t we all born from the same source? So, we are brothers and sisters!” And before I knew it, he joyfully embraced me as being one of his own. What a start of the day!
In this newsletter guest writer Andree shares with us some experiences. Andree also introduces a new development, intended to enrich future stays in the Garden of Nâm. Andree lives and works here from the beginning. Typical for December is the solar eclips and the returning of the light.
Experience 1 – Que la Paz sea contigo!
“Every year (and now for the third time) we make cookies for all the neighbours and relations in Nijar. They are made with almonds, raisins, dates and a little bit of honey; pure and tasty. We pack them nicely in paper bags together with 6 oranges – of which we have a lot! – and decorate them with yellow hearts saying: “Que la Paz sea contigo!“ The neighbours like this gesture. Sometimes we get a kiss, sometimes a bag with tomatoes, courgettes… and off course cucumbers. (We receive so many cucumbers that fried cucumber, cucumber-soup, cucumber with yogurt, cucumber-salads are often on the menu in the “cucumber time’.) It is nice to realise that we came to know more people in the village, that we have made new friends and that for all of us, even for the beginners, our Speaking Spanish has improved!”
Experience 2 – Working in the vegetable garden
Spoken about cucumbers: “Every year, after the heat, we start a new cycle with the kitchen garden. From mid September, October, and so on. The summer is so hot, with its 35 degrees, that working in the garden is too warm and the seeds and baby-plants of the new vegetables dry up. This year we had troubles with the grasshoppers who came in huge groups, eating all the small veggies. They produced their babies in our compost piles, we don’t use insecticides, so they decided to stay with us. Now we have many plants under nets or cloth, except the potatoes, onions and garlic, which they don’t like.
We have harvested green salad, radish and almost 150 kilo potatoes. We planted red and green cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beetroot, carrots… and many red and white onions. These vegetables were growing fine last year; eggplant however didn’t survive, often we have tried. It is nice to work in the garden; prepare the soil, remove thousands of stones, add compost, caring for the seeds and the baby plants, planting, watering, remove weeds, add more compost. Prepare new fields. There is always something to do for everyone and now in wintertime it is around 20 to 24 degrees on the day, a very nice temperature for gardening!”
Gatherings in the Garden of Nâm
We notice our regional rooting while we see more people come to join the weekly Gathering with Yoginâm. Some are directed here by people who they meet on their travels. It resonates with the ancient alchemy of Al-Andalus, where different cultures and backgrounds used to meet and live together, mostly in an open and respectful atmosphere. Something that breathes through in Andree’s next impression.
Experience 3 – Andree in Oezbekistan
“As a child I admired a picture in a magazine: ruins of a mosque, a madrasah, a group of men with long grey beards dressed in white and a boy with a white shawl around his head. I wanted to be that boy… There was written; Samarkand. I wanted to go there! At last, at the age of 70 years old and living for 3 years in the Garden of Nâm Living, I went. For the first time on my own to the unknown and prepared with the help of Google on my Phone.
I had a good time; The old cities were completely renovated, no more ruins, the long grey beards were gone or short, the clothes dark blue and the smart phone in the hands. But the cities were living and I met many friendly people. The social relations and daily life are organised around the spirituality, without obligation and oppression. There are information signs in the street as to help remembering when it is praying time. A young boy thought me how to pray: hold your hands like a bowl, you gather Allah in it. When the prayer is finished, you bring the bowl to your eyes and wrap your hands along your face. And then you are Allah! People pray on the street, while other people just walk along. They gather in the park or on the squares for a picnic, playing backgammon, watch movies on their cellphones and for teachings. Older people from the villages come in modern touring cars to pray near the graves of wise men and in mosques and to enjoy the nice gardens and the food in the open-air restaurants. It is always busy around the Sufi monasteries. In the old madrasahs are now small shops of craftsmen, where the old ways of wood carving, miniature painting, making jewellery, leather bags and of course embroidery are practised and renewed. I had an eye on Afghanistan coats of sheepskin with embroidery like from the sixties. Very nice, but only for very tall men.
In the metro, the buses, the trains, which can be very full, everyone behaves gently, respectful. There are people in old fashioned uniforms everywhere on the platforms, in the bus station. In the trains, every carriage has his own caretaker, ready to help with luggage, serving tea, helping to find your seat. Everywhere I could feel myself completely safe. And I never had to carry a suitcase myself. Communication was not always possible. I cannot speak Uzbek, Tadzjik or Russian and most people know only 2 sentences of English: “Whats your name?” and “Where are you from?” I met some young people who had learned or were studying English. And I was surprised how open and wise they were talking about living in their part of the world. While in Iran the young people were longing to go to America and become rich, the Uzbeks seem to be happy and proud on their history, traditions and spirituality and sometimes criticise (on a polite and mild way) the imperialistic politics of the Western countries and from the big brothers, Russian and China.
At the end of this journey it was good to be back in the Garden of Nâm Living where my dogs live and people gather and – like the advice sounds of the 10th century Sufi Master, Sheikh Abu Bar Sayid – search for Allah in communication with the people around them.”
A new option to enrich your stay
The Garden of Nâm appears to be a place where one can explore their unique niche and live it in a way that serves others. One of the amazing wonders that we regularly see, is people finding ways to express their natural talents. In order to enjoy the soul enriching beauty of the unique surroundings of this Andalusian oasis, from next spring onwards we are going to offer various excursions. And guess who will be the organising host?
Excursions with Andree
“The excursions include some cultural historic monuments like the Cathedral and the huge castle, the Alcazaba, the first European nuns cloister and the old city of Almeria. Close to Nijar are the nicest beaches in the natural park Cabo the Gata, Playa Playazo, Playa Genoveses and Playa Monsul. In the winter this area is very nice for hiking and in the summer one can swim, snorkel to see the coloured tropical fish and, if there is any south eastern wind, this is a good place for surfing or body boarding. There is also the possibility to visit the desert landscapes around Nijar; direction Tabernas and Lucainena. To experience the desert, its silence and beauty, the types of rocks and to learn about the medical power of its vegetation. On this trip we visit a small shop with very good authentic made herbal medicines! These excursions start right after the morning meditation at 10.30 and last until lunchtime at 14.30, they are meant for a 1 to 4 guests. We are considering buying a small bus to allow more people to join. Anyone with ideas about this, welcome!”
Andree concludes with an invitation: “Enjoy the possibility to combine the all embracing loving energy of Yoginâm, the beauty of the Garden of Nâm Living, salt seawater on your skin, the nicest nature experiences and a meaningful togetherness in a stay that greatly contributes to all levels of well-being. And all this during 350 days of sunshine a year!” Welcome!
May peace be upon you