Eddie Stern’s auspicious Ganesha puja was a wonderful way to begin the Confluence.
But that’s not really how it all began. It all began with many greetings.
From the second we stepped in the doors, we ran into people from near and far: past workshops, teacher trainings, retreats and shalas. Tim Miller was among the first.
And sometimes, their children.
This all has translated into lots of hugs, lots of laughter and lots of catching up. You would walk by two or three people, and you could tell that’s what they were doing.
Heck, we even hugged people we see almost every day at Omkar 108.
It’s just that kind of vibe.
And the Catamaran, as one of our friends put it, feels kind of like Disneyland. We think that’s meant in both a good and bad way. It’s a resort, after all, and so there is some artifice to it. But the artifice also helps transport you away from the world. Our ground floor room looks out on a palm tree-filled pond that is home to three types of ducks.
Folks in the high rise have long views of the ocean and Mission Bay.
It all seems just a bit unreal. And that’s even before Eddie does his puja.
A puja complete with jokes that made the crowd comfortable, come closer together and be able to be part of a very reverential moment. Eddie broke down each portion of the puja, teaching from the altar, what each section of the ceremony meant, what we were saying when we repeated after him, and what each gesture meant. The Sanskrit was majestic, each word meaningful; he was careful to bring us along with him — literally. We walked with him to the bay to send a tumeric Ganesha into the water with our prayers. Eddie waded in, and we all shouted, “JAI!”
Lots of folks took pictures. It was a sight, all five senior Western teachers / students together on the altar: Eddie, Tim, Richard Freeman, David Swenson and Nancy Gilgoff. We didn’t. Yes, that seems odd since we are running this blog, but we wanted to soak in the moment. The fire that Tim circled around the altar. The flowers tossed along with Ganesha’s 108 names. The sounds of everyone’s voices.
A confluence, of voices, if you will.
It also was cold. No colder than we warned, but still, seated out by the bay, people shivered and the dinner after the puja broke a bit early. More time for small groups of people to gather together.
Or to sneak off to their room to post about it.
It all is off to a great start, obviously. Thanks to the team — Jenny Barrett and Deb Ifill and Carol Miller — behind it all.
We promise to start taking pictures tomorrow.
Posted by Bobbie and Steve