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And so when I was offered the chance to have a working day at our beautiful jewel on the South Island of NZ, the Glentui retreat land, I accepted with joy. I saw it as an opportunity to increase my connection with the land and also make a contribution to its development. Glentui is still in its early stages of being developed as a Diamond Way retreat place and there are lots of ways to help out.
The day dawned bright and clear. The 40 minute drive to Glentui from Christchurch was lined with cherry trees in blossom and the sight of baby lambs frolicking in the meadows. My excitement grew with each passing mile until at last we reached the ‘Glentui’ turnoff. My friends (Chris and Ines) and I were kitted out for a day of digging holes for trees and tidying out the retreat hut.
On arrival we sat down for a brief XVI Karmapa meditation with an outlook over the valley, making it easy to call to mind the vastness of space. Then with clear heads and a light heart, we set to work. While Chris tackled the hut, Ines and I took on the physical challenge of digging holes in the ground along the fringes of the retreat land for over 200 trees waiting to be planted. It took a while to get the hang of it since I am more used to sitting in front of a computer most of my day. But after a few attempts and some powerful mantras I really got into it and it became quite fun. Ines and I were chatting away as we worked, the sun shining down on us and the sounds from the sheep and cows filling the morning air.
Later in the day we took a walk to the top of the hill and enjoyed the spectacular view down the green valley and all the way to the sea glinting in the far distance. Some friends had created a little ‘Stupa’ there with rocks and some relics, strung with prayer flags. We sat at the base of the structure and simply enjoyed being together and sharing in the joy of the moment.
By the time we were ready to head off, I was already excited for the next time I might return.
My feeling is that for those of us who can make the time to help with this exciting project, it is a wonderful opportunity to be part of creating something truly special. I am sure we will look back one day, when Glentui is being enjoyed by practitioners and being used for meditation courses, and be pleased to have been a part of its history.