Peace in the Park 2015Simon Ralph
July 2015, and you would imagine that the British Summertime would be well under way. After all, it’s all over by September anyway, right?
So, sunshine should be pretty much guaranteed?
In fact, absolutely not.
The fourth weekend in July is the Summer Festival of Peace in the Park.
It is a spiritual festival of music, workshops, lectures and TED style talks, all followed by a music concert, held in the beautiful grounds of the Global Retreat Centre, located in the tiny village of Nuneham Courtney, just outside Oxford.
This year, we had heavy rain! Seriously heavy!
But, did it dampen the spirits of the thousands of people who had pre-booked online for this amazingly free event, organised by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University?
Both Friday the 23rd and Monday 24th were a wash of rain and wind, coupled with well below average temperatures. Luckily however, the Saturday the 24th was warm, with blue skies and sunshine, giving the opportunity for around 5000 people to enjoy a wonderful experience of generosity, hospitality and meditation in the Oxfordshire countryside.
There was face painting and storytelling for the kids, and, for the cultured, Meeting (up close) the Authors, of the books available in the Festival Shop, as well as the recording artists and other Creatives. There were deep journeys into consciousness for the aspiring philosopher’s; subtle guided commentaries for the visualizers; step-by-step instructional programmes for self-transformation for the pragmatic; dancing for young and old and ice cream for the sweet-toothed. Even the teas and biscuits on the lawn were free of change and were made with love and happiness, apparently.
To see the tireless service of the 400+ volunteers was astounding. Their smiling faces shone rays of light through the precipitation in such a way that they seemed to be able to influence the elements themselves. The clouds were parted to enable the Sun to join in with the fun while the mobile weather apps stated the contrary.
The cooperation of the volunteers was an inspiration, and their good wishes were infectious. All those attending were genuinely grateful and delighted at the chance to learn, play, and discover; to be empowered through understanding a variety of universal laws; and to be reminded of their own awareness and natural qualities.
My favourite story of the weekend took place at the end of the Friday’s proceedings. I saw a lady taking photos of the beautifully designed and decorated marquees. In particular she was moved by the design of an amazing orange and red spherical, radiating back drop in one of the tents.
She shared with me her delight, “I have been painting that exact same image for years, not knowing what it was”, then, smiling, she continued,” Now I know why… I feel as if I have come home.”
She was quite emotional, and relieved, to finally have a title for her unnamed artwork after I explained to her: “This image that has struck you so profoundly is called The Benefactor, or, translated into Hindi, Shiva. This image you are admiring is an artist’s impression of the Father of all souls.”
She was, quite literally, overwhelmed.
She had finally been introduced to the One she had painted so many times, the One who had been in her thoughts and memory for ever, and who she had instantly recognised so clearly, and been drawn to that day.
Her heart seemed to melt, and her eyes twinkled, as she finally met her Spiritual Father after such a long time.