Abode Village View, Monthly Update – May. 2017

Abode Village View, Monthly Update – May. 2017

Update from our Executive Director – Al Bellenchia

Dear Friends,


What a season opening we have had!

A full schedule of programs and events in March and April has gotten us all very quickly into the rhythm of ‘showtime’ at the Abode. As Cole Porter once penned for the musical “Kiss Me Kate”:

The overture is about to start,
You cross your fingers and hold your heart,
It’s curtain time and away we go,
Another op’nin’, another show.

From the initial monthly Village Visits to the Inayati Order Board meeting, Jamiat Khas, and Leadership training programs; from our Unity of Religious Ideals week of events to the Wisdom of the Prophets, our team has proven up to the task of holding and caring for our guests.

The response and reviews have been heartening and have affirmed the new direction and energy building at the Abode, as reflected through our community, staff and volunteers. In the last few weeks, we welcomed to the Abode Koni Davis as Housekeeping Leader and Josh Ramos as Mountain Manager.

Renewal is blooming along with the daffodils, tulips and fruit trees! We always desire to know how we are doing, and I personally welcome hearing your feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Meanwhile, our work continues on planning for needed rehabilitation and upgrades to our facilities, to provide a physical environment that is attractive, accessible and accommodating for the diverse range of stakeholders who call the Abode “home.” There is much to do, and we look forward to updating you on our progress.

In April, the Abode finalized the purchase of Inayat Manzil from the Inayati Order, ensuring that this important structure and its baraka is honored and preserved as a community asset. We are reviewing potential uses for the house once Pir Zia and his family move, with an intention of maintaining it for appropriate spiritual and community use.

And please remember that the Abode Ambassadors membership benefits program is a great way to support the Abode and earn discounts on programs, books and more. To learn more, please click here.

Many thanks for all of your presence, your blessings, and your support of our work.

Update from our Spiritual DirectorNetanel Miles-Yépez

April was an amazingly packed month here at the Abode, starting with the Unity of Religious Ideals week and ending with the Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Judaism weekend.

Our Abode Passover Seder this year was a joyous, meaningful event attended by forty-five people. It was followed a day later by a screening of Megan McFeely’s profoundly moving film about the feminine, As She Is. We then hosted a Buddhist-Sufi dialogue between me and Tendai Buddhist abbot, Monshin Paul Naamon, a day-long retreat with Yaqin Aubert on the Way of Illumination, and capped the week with an Easter Universal Worship service.

On April 6th, the Abode community also had the pleasure of joining the Jabalqa Class of Suluk for a special intimate sohbet in the Meditation Hall at which Pir Zia Inayat-Khan and I took questions together on the spiritual life. The audio of this sohbet is available in an April 20th post on the Abode’s Facebook page.

In addition to our regular Traditions and Message classes, on April 18th, we held a beautiful sama’ with Salima McCall and Rehan Morey, which included a Sufi tea ceremony, my telling of the Sufi parable, “The Story of Tea,” and a little sohbet, spiritual conversation.

Then, at the end of the month, we hosted the Inayati Order’s program, “Wisdom of the Prophets: Sufism & Judaism,” at which I taught with Pir Zia, and my dear friend, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone. Since this joyous event coincided with our Abode Village Visit, the Inayati Order generously offered to allow our visitors to participate in the Shabbat dinner, the Sufi-Jewish Zikr, and the Jewish Havdalah ceremony and meal.

As a part of the same weekend, the Inayati Order’s executive director, Jennifer Alia Wittman, suggested that since a Climate March would be happening in Washington, D.C., that same weekend, the program and the Abode community should show solidarity and march together down to the Abode pond. Thus, a group of us gathered on the Rezak lawn, and led by Pir Zia, accompanied by his wife and son, walked in silence down to the pond. The frogs were all singing loudly, and amid their song, standing on the dock, Pir Zia led us in zikr (with Pirani Sartaj accompanying on the frame drum), and read a prayer for the planet. Rabbi Tirzah Firestone then offered a prayer, after which I offered a final prayer for the earth.

Photo: Jennifer Alia Wittman

Click photo to enlarge.

This month, our own classes will continue; but I specifically want to invite you to four special sessions with Pir Zia teaching on the “The Soul Whence and Whither.” These will occur on each of the four Thursdays of the month in the Meditation Hall. These sessions are open to the public, and will be one of the best opportunities to come and learn with Pir Zia before his move in July. Please be seated by 6:45, as they are also being Livestreamed.

Finally, I’d like to welcome our new khadim, Saiqa Latif, joining Class Karim from the United Kingdom. Already, she has begun to take part in community life, keeping the hours of prayer in the Meditation Hall.

Update from our Director of Programs – Ibrahím Pedriñán

Well, friends, as you can see from Al’s and Emily’s updates, it’s been a super busy opening and we are ever grateful for all of you who have been here in person, via LiveStream, or through loving support and friendship from a distance. The Programs Office truly is honored by you, our guests, our teachers, our neighbors, our residents, and our friends (on many planes).

Unity of Religious Ideals Week was an important time here at the Abode with a marvelous Passover Seder, a riveting film, an engaging interreligious dialogue, a sacred one-day retreat, and Easter festivities including new friends who joined our Easter Egg Hunt. Thanks for all who participated and made it a success!

We are also thrilled that many of our programs, events, and goings-on at the Abode are being covered by local media and included in many calendars regionally. Here are a few:

Emerald Earth
Sacred Art of Storytelling
Unity of Religious Ideals
Spotlight on Al and Performance Feedback
and more!

Village Visits have also be immensely successful with participants from various parts of the country, various ages, and various walks of life checking out this Eco-Sufi Village. Each Visit has had 5 people and we look forward to more people joining for these sweet times of togetherness. April’s Village Visit had a work day of clearing an old, dilapidated shed from near the “Khizr Spring”, revitalizing this spiritually-rich area. Join us for Community Work Days during these Village Visits and contribute meaningfully to the spiritual life and practice of the Abode!

Our first session of the Khidmat Program saw Pauline and Rahma through weeks of spiritual practice, sohbet (spiritual dialogue), elemental exploration, and honest work. They are sticking around in our Hands-to-Heart Program with our dear friend Larz, working and integrating into the Village. We’ve now welcomed Saiqa into this second Khidmat session and are thrilled about the growing interest in the Abode.

The Abode Programs Office will also be venturing out to Rowe Center for our semi-annual Western Massachusetts Retreat Association meeting. This long-standing partnership has been beneficial for learning from neighboring retreat centers and we are thrilled to be hosting this meeting in November.

Another partnership we are very blessed to have is our work with Omega Institute, where we will have our staff/board retreat in the first full week of May. Omega, founded at the Abode, is now immensely successful and immensely generous in sharing their time and expertise with us. We are supremely grateful to them!

Wow! So much! Thanks for sticking with me! And thanks for sticking with the Abode as we grow this Eco-Sufi Village!

We hope you will keep spreading the word about the exciting things happening at the Abode and joining us at any of our May events that Emily will now outline!

Update from our Programs Assistant – Emily Collins

On February 14, we launched Abode Ambassadors, our member benefits program. Since its inception we’ve received ongoing support from our beloved community. We invite you to embrace your Membership as an opportunity to partake in all things Abode, whether it be attending an Abode-sponsored program, picking up a new book or t-shirt from the Abode Store, or tuning in to an online spiritual class. If you have an Abode-specific story, memory, or cherished moment you’d like to share with the community, please submit to [email protected]

Membership begins at $10 a month. To become an Abode Ambassador or learn more about this benefits program, visit www.theabode.org/donate. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and has not gone unnoticed. Thank you.

We hope to see you back at the Abode this month for either a class, meal, Universal Worship, or one of our exciting programs listed below!

May Programs Calendar


May 11
Farm Class: ​Build a ​Wood-Fired Oven with Evan Thaler-Null
​O​pen to all who wish to reconnect with the rhythm of the earth​, the Abode continues its monthly farm classes under the guidance of Ecology Manager Evan Thaler-Null​, in collaboration with Abode Farm CSA. This month’s class will focus on traditional building practices as we build an earthen wood-fired oven out of local materials at the Farm. Click here to register​.​

May 12 – 14
Rasa Shastra with Netanel Miles-Yépez and Deepa Gulrukh Patel*SPECIAL LIVESTREAM OPTION*
​This three-day program will explore the themes of love, intimacy, sex, and modern relations in the context of Rasa Shastra—a series of lessons given by Hazrat Inayat Khan on intimate relationships. Click here to register.

May 17-21
River of Guidance: Federation of the Message Gathering 2017
The Federation of the Message invites you to share in the teachings of the Sufi Message presented by senior leaders from the different streams who trace their source to Hazrat Inayat Khan. Senior teachers from the International Sufi Movement, The Inayati Order, Sufi Way, Sufi Contact, Fraternity of Light, and the Sufi Ruhaniat International (hosts) will share teachings and practices from their respective orders and join in creative dialogue. Click here to register.

May 24
Wild Woman Project New Moon Circle
Amanda Salima McCall will lead this month’s circle to provide space for women to be themselves and grow to be their best selves. Gathering around the ideas of Sisterhood, Respect for the Earth, and Co-creation, circles will include Guided Meditation, Sharing, Intention Setting Ritual, and more. Click here to register.

May 26-28
Village Visit – May
Village Visits are an entry point committed to answering “What is the Abode, an Eco-Sufi Village?” These Friday through Sunday immersions involve music and dancing, outdoor exploration, Farm(er)-to-Table meals, mini work projects, Sufi studies, engagement with the elements, Universal Worship, and more! Click here to register.

May 26 – 29
The Feminine Resurrection: A Music and Movement Immersion to Celebrate the Sacred Feminine with Juliet Rabia Gentile and CC Treadway
Share Memorial Day weekend resurrecting the feminine in this 4 day program with Juliet Rabia Gentile and CC Treadway. The event will include rituals and practices from various esoteric traditions, will include vocal play and group song, discussion and deep listening, and earthy explorations on the 350 acres of the Abode all in order to reclaim and restore the feminine essence. Click here to register.

Update from our Kitchen Manager – Evan Young

With spring in full swing, the kitchen has been buzzing with activity. We’ve been blessed with some strong volunteer help the past few weeks and have been feeding lots of guests while also continuing to make progress on updating our kitchen infrastructure. Most notably, we just installed new shelving in our upstairs walk-in- this was a simple, much needed improvement and the kitchen crew is feeling very proud of this new addition! This month we will be setting our sights on the mountain kitchen, where there is plenty of work to be done.

The kitchen team is also happy to report we’ve been spending a little more time out of doors recently, as the time for gathering is upon us! Although it’s early in the season, we have already been out in the Abode herb garden harvesting nettles and chives and out in the woods picking ramps, fiddleheads, dandelions, and wild garlic. Spring brings new gifts every day! This season we hope to continue learning from both the older traditions and new food movements, in striving to bring our kitchen into a stronger rhythm with our environment.

Update from our Manager of Ecology – Evan Thaler-Null

The chickens have arrived!

As of last week the Abode has become the proud parent(s) of 84 beautiful laying hens, and we are super excited! These lovely birds are a hearty and productive breed called Red Sex Link; they are great foragers and produce lots of beautiful brown eggs. This 5-month-old flock has been raised on organic feed and pasture at a small farm in Rhode Island and arrived here last Thursday. Now that they are here they will have a wonderful life foraging in the fields and pasture of the Abode Farm. They are being housed in a newly built chicken coop on wheels, which will be moved to a new location weekly. Moving the chickens means they get a fresh patch of forage to eat and distributes their valuable manure to various areas of the farm. They will be free-ranging everyday in a 2,500 square foot portable electric fence, so they will have lots of space to roam and protection from predators.

The chickens will be fed food scraps from the Abode and the farm as well as local organic feed grown in the Hudson Valley. This project has come out of the desire for the Abode to become more self-sufficient, have a more active agricultural program, and produce more healthy sustainable food on campus. We will be producing all the eggs we need (about 70 eggs per day in the summer), drastically reducing Abode food costs while increasing egg quality, chicken happiness, and farm fun!

The first eggs will be coming in a couple of weeks, stay tuned for more updates! And if you live nearby, Chicken Care will be a volunteer role for community members, and will consist of 2-4 shifts per day, about 10-20min each. If you are interested in helping with any part of the chicken care process please email [email protected] and I will include you in the scheduling and training process.

Update from our Maintenance Manager –Wajid Jackson

Spring has definitely sprung. The Snow Bells are popping everywhere. Time for repairing snow plow damage, cleaning up of tree branch detritus, and hauling trailer loads to the waste station. Indoors our Khadim will be doing some painting in between other tasks.

April also signaled vehicle and machine maintenance to carry us through the Programs season. Painting Rezak possibilities are being explored as we slog through the wetness of thaw and rain. Yes, MUD season!

Abode Weekly Village View

Tuesday May 9
– 6:00pm Community Dinner – Rezak Dining Room
– 7:00pm Traditions Class with Yaqin Aubert – Meditation Hall
“Four Stages of Zikr – This week, Yaqin Aubert, Vice-President of the Inayati Order, will talk about the four stages of zikr through the experience of images, sound, and being, and in relation to the lata’if or inner centers.

Wednesday May 10
5:00pm Full Moon Ziraat Lodge – Abode Herb Garden
7:00pm Healing Class and Circle – Meditation Hall

Thursday May 11
– 4:00 – 5:30pm Farm Class: Build a Wood-Fired Oven- Abode Farm
– 6:00pm Community Dinner – Rezak Dining Room
– 6:45pm Message Class with Sarafil Bawa (Pir Zia) – Meditation Hall
“The Soul Whence & Whither” – On Thursday, Pir Zia Inayat-Khan will offer the second of a four-part series on “The Soul Whence & Whither” from the new Message volume, The Inner Life. This is open to the public, but please be seated by 6:45, as this is being Livestreamed.

Friday May 12 – Sunday May 14
Rasa Shastra – Exploring Love, Intimacy, Sex, and Relationships in Sufism

Sunday May 14
– 11:00am Universal Worship with Aimee Brodeur Johnson – Rezak Library
– 12:30pm Sunday Brunch – Rezak Dining Room