Sunday, March 2, 2008

Banderban: A Real Retreat

We, the MCC expatriate staff in Bangladesh, had a retreat recently, and did I ever need a retreat. After two months of go, go, go, it was time for a rest. Bangladesh is a country of extremes. It is an intense country and the chance to retreat to somewhere away from the crowds, the smells and the noise, was a prayer come true. Shown a picture of Banderban, I would never have placed the location as Bangladesh. Bangladesh is flat, overflowing with people and rice fields. Bangladesh is not a hilly oasis of tribal groups floating down the river and climbing hills with large bundles of wood.

Banderban was the polar opposite of the Bangladesh I have come to know. But it was exactly what I needed. After some frustrating cultural exchanges and Bangladesh induced stress, the sound of birds and the smell of vegetation was a beautiful reminder of the natural beauty of God's creation.

The resort was a little natural paradise. Bamboo huts on stilts, built off the edge of a large hill. A porch and bathroom with a stunning view of the Burma hills, as they are called. The physical beauty and relaxing atmosphere coupled with time to enjoy the excitement of the children and the chance to exercise was empowering.

The theme of our retreat was meditation. Now meditation is not something I had ever given much thought or time too. I always assumed that meditation was not something for me. I should learn better than to think such things! Meditation provides a powerful time for relaxation, a time to be in concert with creation and with myself. The singing and silence during our sessions was a prayer answered and a peace relished. There was nothing I could have wished for more in that time (Bangladeshi saying), than to have the peace, silence, beauty and solitude that Banderban provided.


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