An expedition amidst darkness, onto the path leading to light.
Beginning of August, each year, The Upper Room embarks upon a spiritual journey to enrich and nourish various distinct 'faith stories' of individuals across the country. With its ideas and motives of elevating the minds and hearts, especially of the youth, the community grows, providing space for each to open up from within. In the doing, not only does it help enhance relations, but it fosters home to the ones ready to be part of it.
The virtue of The Upper Room lies within its unbiased view on religion and faith; You may arrive from different regions, with different beliefs and varied faith stories and you will depart with the same; only this time more coherent and with lucid credence. It's a space, where faith isn't celebrated as a religion, but as a community.
This year, we had an explicit theme- Eph'phatha! Which meant - 'Be Opened'.
This four day, camp-based retreat held in the hills of Lonavla touched each and every member of this community in numerous ways. We entered this home, with enthusiasm and anticipation, and took away a completely new perspective which led deeper into knowing oneself. Ranging from the various illuminating sessions and workshops to fun-filled activities and games, we set on a venture to an elevating experience.
There were themes like - 'God in a gunny bag', 'Theodicy', 'Science and Religion' which spoke directly to each present and motivated us into contemplating further into our faith. There were Workshops that spoke of Spiritual conflicts, ones we confront in our daily lives. The activities we joined our hands in, focused on the Grace and Presence of the Divine. Vivid games included in the camp, along with the 'Treasure Hunt' fit perfectly in knowing each other around us and helped strengthen bonds. The movie session based on the 'Ship of Theseus' was an adventure in itself. Not only did it open up the flood gates to a branch of thoughts, but it took a step further into questioning our Naivety.
Then was the Taizé Evening- A relaxing ambience of tranquility and peace. An environment for self-introspection and reflection. Eph'phatha, a beautiful episode altogether ushered happiness in our hearts. To end on a note of togetherness as one Family we celebrated - The Last Supper. Going beyond this gratifyingly composed happening, we each take back with us a whole heart- Kinship.
In providing this space, The Upper Room brings together individuals who with the proceedings of this camp, grow; grow into persons greater than themselves; grow into a family. And that is what distinguishes The Upper Room from commoners; its ideology and implementation, and how it makes a place in each of our hearts, wanting and waiting for the next theme to be announced.
So here I stand, filled with content up to my brim, looking back to this amazing weekend. The beauty of such an endeavor, the growth of a family, and the acceptance of a home. Words fail to describe the extent of such a retreat and the impact it has on our lives. Tears spring out, when we look back to these times and smile, to a new chapter embossed upon us. The speciality and humility of every part of the retreat, the feelings it induces, the love it cherishes, and the people it brings together; is the reason why my heart resides with it, craving to be part of its next. Thus, with having tread this journey, I urge each of you to be part of such an enlightening experience.
"The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark." -Thomas Paine
- By Ashley Reis