Ananda Family News

Monday, June 29, 2015

Farm Adventure Days

[guest post from Michael and Kasey]

Here are some photo highlights from our June Farm Adventure Days!

When you think of all the components God pulled together for a wonderful week it is truly amazing. The chicks arrived a day before the first day, and all the kids got to hold these brand new baby chicks about the size of a orange. The big chickens were great fun to feed and get the eggs from. The pond with salamanders or Sally’s as the kids called them were endless fun to catch and release along with the cute small frogs. We also enjoyed art projects, planting veggies, nature appreciation games, and a trip to the beach. It’s wonderful for kids to get unplugged and get out in the sunshine to explore and play.

We want to thank our wonderful teachers that led the week of adventure days. Our daughter Kelly was in another camp being a teen leader last week after doing the same at FAD. Her comment was that the other camp was not like an Ananda teacher experience — those Ananda teachers put a lot of thought and energy into really connecting with the kids.

There are more Farm Adventure Days coming up on July 20-24, and we expect them to sell out soon! We’re looking forward to this second session, especially when we get uplifting reports like this from parents:
“Our children loved the camp so much and were extremely candid while telling us about their day.... It was so wonderful to hear about all their experiences. When they went to bed in the evening, they were so exhausted, yet couldn’t wait for the morning and their next adventure. My son said, ‘Mom, I learned so much from camp, it taught me to connect with nature and feel calm inside.’ Priceless! This is one of the best camps ever. My two boys also said that they felt loved and cared for. Thank you so much for this great program!”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rajarsi Day

[guest post from Sharmila]

About 30-35 Ananda gurubais and friends showed up on Saturday to clean up and beautify our temple (inside and out), our teaching center entryway, the temple entry from El Camino Real, and the piazza grounds.

Living Wisdom School got some wonderful help in sanding and painting the picnic tables, and painting hopscotch on the ground for kids to play.

Marcel had wonderful help from Sahadev and others in putting together a tool shed, organizing and cleaning out the tool room.

Anandaprem had quite a crew helping her clean up and beautify the flower pantry, and the ministers’ room. Jan was our early bird “dust bunny” cleaning and dusting cobwebs from every corner, and going on to lend her energy to numerous other tasks.

Many thanks to each and everyone who helped, with wonderful fun energy. A good time was had by all, and lots of great conversation happened around the beautiful snack table. Thanks, Master, Swamiji, and Rajarsi, for being present with us today.

[More photos here!]

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Shrine Installation

Thanks to Jay’s loving volunteer labors, we have a beautiful shrine for the bust of Master in the piazza now. After service last Sunday, David and Gary carried the bust out into the courtyard, followed by everyone else, with chanting, and a dedication by Shanti. Rose petals and happiness poured out to bless the presence of the guru, lovingly symbolized by his likeness. Drop a petal of devotion next time you pass by....

A few photos here and lots more photos here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easter Congregation Photo

Whoops — I forgot to mention in the last post one of our other Easter traditions: our annual all-congregation photo. Here we all are!

If you want to get the high-resolution version, click on the photo above, then click “More,” then select “Download.” Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Week

Our Easter festivities kicked off on Palm Sunday with a choir concert following service (and lunch). The choir had had a great time learning several new pieces by Handel, Mendelssohn, and Mozart, some of which have been voted among the top-10 favorites of choirs nationwide. And, of course, there was also a generous selection of Swami Kriyananda’s music, which will some day be on such a list. An extra treat was cello accompaniment to two of the songs, provided by Hiroki, an LWS student. We’ve got some photos of the day here, plus a video of the entire concert for your enjoyment.

Then this past Saturday it was time to stop letting the choir have all the fun. Asha hosted an Easter retreat based around Swamiji’s Christ Lives Oratorio, with everyone singing along. Barbara and a visiting Chaitanya led the singing, and everyone sang melody, both to keep it simple and devotional, and also to more directly tune in to the words, consciousness, and inspiration of each piece. So even for choir members it was a different and special experience. (Photos are here.)

Holy Week culminated in a glorious Easter celebration. One new element this year was a choreography to “Rise in Freedom” (an excellent Easter chant). It was performed by four of our dancers at the beginning of service, but the whole congregation got to join in later on (at least as far as the arm motions were concerned). We also got a performance of “Lightly I Fly” from many of the children and families who have been rehearsing it for us at our Family Services the past couple of months.

Our Easter banquet was held in the temple rather than at the community, due to impending drizzle, but all was bright with delight inside. Entertainment included juggling, violin music, banjo music, stand-up comedy, and the inaugural performance of the Ananda Ukulele Ministry (AUM). Clean-up inspiration provided by David and Karen’s rendition of “Who Will Clean Up?” to Swamiji’s tune of “Who Is Sylvia?” Photos of the entire Easter day can be found here, and if that’s not enough, also here.

In closing, here is the ukulele band’s rendition of an ancient Sanskrit Easter blessing song:

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say 
on a bright Ananda Easter Day. 
That’s the sattwic greeting that we send to you
from the land where yogis pray. 
Here we know that Easter will be full of light: 
we’ll meditate by day and then again at night. 
Mele Kalikimaka is the wise way 
to say Happy Easter to you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

LWS Play: George Washington Carver

In Living Wisdom School’s 22-year run of exceptional performances, this year’s play was a first. As always, its subject was an inspiring spiritual figure, but for the first time it was also a scientist: George Washington Carver. As the introductory scene acknowledged, science and religion have not always gotten along well together, but in today’s society it’s important to be reminded that they can, and indeed, should. The fusion of the two also paralleled the post-Civil War struggle for racial integration that was another major thread throughout the play.

Students portraying the teachers as they
discuss the subject of this year’s play.
The music throughout the production featured two songs as its main themes: “How Can I Keep from Singing?,” a beautiful hymn in tune with Carver’s optimistic and indomitable spirit, and “Amen,” a joyful, hand-clapping gospel classic. This year also included a number of dance choreographies, among them an adorable ballet of nature devas healing sick flowers to the music of “The Blue Danube,” one of Yogananda’s favorites. Dance was also used very effectively in some of the action scenes — a Civil War battle and a mob scene — to soften the scary moments for some of the younger children while still conveying the intensity of those events.

“How Can I Keep from Singing?”
performed by the all-school chorus.
The play excelled not only as entertainment, but as a history lesson, with the events coming to life before our eyes. Anyone who grew up in the United States probably remembers reading, for instance, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in school. But hearing these words in context, recited by students putting their hearts into it, conveys the power of that speech at that moment in a way no textbook can. We’re lucky to have many original quotes from George Washington Carver himself as well, conveying his consciousness all the more directly.

“The Blue Danube” ballet.
Far beyond mere rote memorization, participation in the play develops deeper skills in the students, including flexibility and grace under pressure. An example: For the final evening, several children were unable to perform. With the entire school already fully involved, there had been no bandwidth to assign or train understudies. So just before showtime, the director simply asked who else in the cast knew the missing students’ lines. The volunteers stepped into their new roles with all the confidence of actors who had paid complete attention in rehearsals even to scenes that were not originally their own.

Singing of the many uses of the peanut
(in peanut hats).
More photos from the dress rehearsal can be found here, and keep an eye on the LWS Vimeo channel for the official performance videos (coming soon)!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Enchanted Tea at the Farm

[Guest post by Karen B. Check out the Ananda Valley Farm website to keep up with the latest news from the farm!]

While yogis are no strangers to moments of delight, beauty and surprise, the Enchanted Tea fundraising event on the farm this past weekend may have set a new standard for experiencing such divine gifts amidst the clucking of nearby chickens, the insulating charm of greenhouse surroundings and the fresh, earthy scent of a recently enhanced straw floor.

The nearly 35 guests (and an equal number of volunteers) who attended enjoyed a lovely afternoon of tea, various courses of delicious handmade foods representing different countries, and the splendid musical entertainment of a talented vocal quartet.

While refinement was in the air, and a cadre of waiters was on hand to serve guests in sit-down fashion, the order of the day was the much-anticipated opportunity to offer support to our beloved farm, and the many projects that await funding in order to proceed.

What began as an inventory of 30 items in need of sponsorship, quickly transformed into a list reflective of the true generosity of spirit that has accompanied the Ananda Valley Farm from its inception.

Many projects were fully funded; among them a mobile chicken coop, equipment to expand seedling production, funding to expand the accommodations at Seva House, new fruit trees for the orchard, solar-powered valve controls for watering, landscaping and a wishing well for the Temple yurt, and even the addition of an espresso machine for the Seva House kitchen. And, lastly, the entire room erupted in cheers and applause at the announcement of the funding of the final item on the list: a horse.

Stay tuned for the many seva opportunities that will arise as these upgrades to the farm are purchased and become ready to install.

For now, we would like to express gratitude to all of those whose willing service contributed to an exquisite experience at the farm, and to God and Gurus for the abundant blessings that continue to grace the life of Ananda Valley Farm.

[You can find more photos of the event here!]

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