Varanasi, India - February 2020
February 24th - 28th 2020
ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE
Who is it for:
For those who have always wanted to go to India but have been too scared, for those who LOVE India, for those that HATE India. For those who need a shake up. For those who are hungry for more of God, for those who are full. For those who feel certain in their faith, and for those who no longer feel the certainty they once did.
This experience is for those who want to open their eyes and hearts up to Christ.
For those who want to experience a God who is boundless, for those who want to carve out space to meet with the God of every nation, every tribe and every tongue.
Our little family lived in this city for 3 years when my babies were only little. We moved to Varanasi when my daughter was 8 months old, and my son was born and lived his first year of life in India.
During those years I felt most' ‘alive’, I was stretched beyond my limits, challenged, broken, inspired, transformed, uncomfortable, at home, happy, and desperately sad. Though it was in this place that my faith grew its deep roots, it was in the surrender, in the hopelessness, and in the brokenness that Jesus entered in.
As I watched the deep and beautiful worship of the Hindu’s around me, their faith that is very much front and center of their lives at all times, their faith that is so tangible and colourful, I was inspired to question, what does my life look like as a devotee of Jesus?
As the “Call to Prayer” rung out over the city 5 times a day, I was forced to ask, when do I pray? Is there something beautiful about embodied prayer, about a rhythm of prayer that you center your life around.
Spirituality in Varanasi can not be ignored. And I want to take you there to experience it for yourself!
This time is not to tear down other paths, but instead to observe, to learn, to see our own cultural blindspots, to get uncomfortable, to learn reverence and respect for our neighbors around the world.
Varanasi is the Spiritual heart beat of India, and whilst the Christian population is tiny here, I want to challenge us to look for Jesus, everywhere. It won’t be in a church building, or a cultural way of ‘doing’ Jesus. It will be in the humanity around us, in the eyes of the beggars and the rich businessman. In the beauty and the destruction seen in this city, in the death and life visible all around. In poverty and in riches. As we observe the Hindu doing their Puja, the Muslim praying, the religious festivals, we will see the earnesty and devotion of the one who is seeking, maybe considering what our puja looks like? what our bhakto looks like? what joins us together, what sets us apart? And as we observe and question and learn, may we always have our eyes and hearts tuned in to beautiful Jesus.
Christ is there, Christ was always there, and will always be there.
VISION AND SCHEDULE:
We want to make your experience as authentic and beautiful as possible. We will be staying at a simple, yet clean and beautiful heritage building in the old city. Whilst the old city can be intense and confronting, our accommodation is like a safe oasis in the heart of it all. A guesthouse for artists, musicians and social activists.
All our meals will be Vegetarian. We will be taking great care in providing meals that are clean and safe as much as possible, taking every possible precaution, however once again, please be aware, this is India. And India doesn’t do rules ;)
- Twice Daily Christ Centered Yoga Flows and guided meditation
- Teachings on world religions, yogic philosophy and where we can see Christ intersect.
-Christ Kirtan - Devotional Worship to Jesus in Hindi
-Sunrise Boat Rides on the Ganges River
- An evening at Ganga Arti
-Guided tour of the Ghats that line the river.
-A visit to Mother Theresa home for the dying and other projects working with the poor in the city
-Lots of space to contemplate, read and to process this incredible place
-Endless chai, served in clay cups
* It needs to be made very clear that India, particularly Varanasi is not a place you go to ‘rest’. This is going to be a beautiful and holy experience, though I want to make it clear that if you are after a peaceful, quiet, rest filled ‘retreat’, this may not be the place for you.
Varanasi is loud and chaotic, crowded and beautiful and wonderful and pulsing with energy and art and music and life. It is a feast for the senses! The smells, the sights, the adventure!
As with every retreat /experience I run, grace is at the center and you are welcome to participate in as much or as little as you like.
[subject to booking and availability]
We will be staying at the Kautilya Society in the old city. The rooms are quite simple and they have shared bathrooms. BUT they are beautiful. With Art on the walls, and history, and social justice and the fight for preservation of history in this beautiful city, which in recent years has been under attack.
We know this won’t be everyones ‘cup of tea’, but India is also not everyone’s cup of tea.
The reason we have chosen this venue instead of a 4 or 5 star hotel, is that we know the owners, we trust the owners, and we believe that this is the best, most homely, and comfortable place to stay in this city. It is authentic and beautiful and reflects exactly what we want out of this experience for you.
Varanasi is said to be the oldest, continuously inhabited living city in the world. It lies on the banks of the Ganges River, a sacred site for Hindu’s who believe that to die and be cremated here, is to escape the cycle of samsara (reincarnation) and to enter into eternity. To wash in it’s waters is to cleanse you of your sins. It is also the home to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, one of the most important temples in India, with most Indians making a pilgrimage to it at least once in their lives.
For Muslims, Varanasi is the site of one of India’s most important mosques, the Alamgir Mosque which was constructed by Emporor Aurangzeb in 1669. The mosque is a blend of islamic and Hindu architecture.
For Buddhists, just 10km from the city center is Sarnath, it is said that under the Bodhi Tree at this site was where Guatama Siddhartha taught his first sermon, and was mentioned by the Buddha as one of 4 sites of pilgrimage for devoted Buddhist.
It is a place of Spiritual Pilgrimage, it is buzzing with energy, loud speakers, temple bells, calls to prayer, cows in the gullies, sadhus (Indian Holy Men) and Guru’s. It is home to approx. 23,000 temples - in one city.
You do not got to Varanasi to rest, to have a holiday. You go to Varanasi to experience.
If you think that this is something you may be interested in, Please send me an email by clicking on the button above! If there is interest…. Let’s do it!