It’s Saturday morning, and the Source Temple Community is not sleeping in. After eight AM Puja—a devotional meditation involving both silent sitting and mantras (or chanting)—we change from collared shirts and dresses into our work clothes, electing one of two sites to pass the morning. The options for today’s Minga (a term that refers to community gathering whose objective is both service and celebration) are the Agroforestry garden and the Karma Yoga Guesthouse.
What I am offering you today is this: keep going. You already know everything there is to know. You have enough experience to indicate that you are in service, that you are being used by Him to gather and to take out.Our Teacher Josh
I personally love mingas. The festive air, the comeraderie that prevails while working hard, represents the power of a community to be both incredibly united and extremely productive.
I remember my first minga as a volunteer (not obligatory, but open to all). I had a moment of distinct clarity as I was on a ladder, painting the outside of the Guesthouse. Down below to my right were Emily and Nicole, and on the other side, Ama—brushes dancing in their hands as they put down a second coat of cream-colored paint. Behind me were Waldo, Woody, and Peter gathered around a long plank of wood that needed to be sawed. They were laughing heartily at something I couldn’t hear, their radient smiles and joyous connection rippling out far beyond their small circle.
I felt I needed a reality check— it was a Saturday morning of intense work, yet the atmosphere was one of playing volleyball, drinking beer, and wholeheartedly enjoying the company of loved ones. I remember my heart feeling so full at that moment, and a powerful thought entered my mind— there is nothing, NOTHING that a group of motivated and dedicated individuals cannot accomplish together. What had been a drab, unfinished structure just two hours before now had two layers of paint and another of varnish as well as a fully installed kitchen, complete with cabinets and lighting.
Yet, it was not just what we were able to do in those four hours that left me awestruck, but how we did it— with joy and with purpose and with an overall sense of play and fraternity. I knew my feelings of satisfaction and connection were shared by all who came to join in the celebratory meal (those who weren’t at the Guesthouse had been preparing lunch for everyone in the Main House) that marked the end of the minga.
Today’s minga, though divided, was no different. People who were more drawn to construction went to the Guesthouse to paint the newly renovated volunteer rooms. Guinevere, or Guin as she’s called at Source Temple, was managing the operation with the skill, calm, and clarity of communication for which she is known. I have never seen someone field as many questions from as many different parties in as small a space with the patience and attentiveness that Guin does.
On the other side of the Source Temple Sanctuary grounds, was the complementary minga in the garden, for people who wanted to get their hands in the earth (I recently learned that soil has microorganisms that produce an effect similar to anti-depressants, causing the release of serotonin, or “happiness” activating compounds in the brain. No wonder “earth” therapies— where people lay in or are coated in clay, soil, or mud— are gaining popularity!). We spent the majority of the minga weeding beds of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and carrots, then putting down mulch—a thick layer of grass cuttings that both trap humidity to keep the roots of the plants moist and prevent weeds from springing up.
I found myself across from Sarah and beside Athena, a little ways away from Trinity, Sebastian, and Allan, who were creating new beds and fixing the watering system. After working for a while in easy, meditative silence, Sarah, Athena, and I found ourselves in an intimate conversation about the Emotional-Sexual Yoga reading we had done as group that week. Before we knew it, it was just before one PM and time for the lunch.
We were flabbergasted. How had the time passed so quickly?! We surveyed our work with satisfaction. There was so much more space in the beds; the plants could breathe now, and in turn, so could we! Trinity, the extremely passionate and energetic head of the garden and agroforestry project at Source Temple, was thrilled. Having extra hands is a tremendous help in the extensive, often “unruly” area that seeks to provide the majority of the organic produce that the 30+ member community needs. Sweaty, exuberant, and smelling of earth and grass cuttings, we headed in the direction of showers, the other half of our minga– family, and the fresh, largely green meal (right from our own garden!) that awaited us in the Main House.