It is often said that "one should never air their dirty laundry in public", and in many cases this is certainly wise advice. However, when it comes to community, I feel that transparency, discernment and disclosure are vital. And when it comes to me personally, nothing less than radical honesty and vulnerability is acceptable. Above all else, I am here to grow, and that means passing through the fires of truth and transformation, and dancing with my shadows over and over again.
It also means to face the music.
As the brilliant creator of the Gene Keys, Richard Rudd, always says - "Every shadow contains a gift." And why keep that gift to yourself, when it can be shared and used as a manna and medicine to heal yourself and others?
I would like to acknowledge that we had a rough year behind the scenes in 2017, which I have been calling the year of Agony & Ecstasy. A year which provided quite a few set-backs and seemingly endless difficulties, and also ended/strained some friendships, created a lot of debt, and brought us to our knees time and time again.
Yet through it all, there was an underlying feeling that this was a natural part of our progression and evolution. We were presented with our biggest challenges and greatest tests, and while we were left bruised and battered by the storms, we (most of us anyway) danced through it all to become stronger and more resilient than ever.
There is a saying, that if your dreams have not brought you to your knees and made you want to quit a dozen times, then you are not dreaming big enough. I spent so much time last year on my knees that I now know this to be verifiably true.
And, I know I am not alone.
I have heard countless stories from individuals who were/are also being tested and forged in the fires of transformation this past year. Thankfully, we are still standing. I don’t know if we are out of the woods just yet, maybe our knees have a few more kisses to give the ground, but I do know that we are walking an honorable path, doing the work of Spirit, and heading in the right direction!
And we are NEVER alone!
I have a feeling that 10 years from now we will look back in time with a sense of appreciation and nostalgia, and see 2017 for what it was - not as that terrible year of failure and pain we pray to forget, but as that awe-inspiring year that defined who we are as individuals and community, and set us on a path towards increased abundance, inspiration, creativity, refinement, sustainability and expansion. A year that showed us what we are made of!
Regardless of all the difficulties, we had our most beautiful gatherings yet. The Sound was seductive and the Silences were oh so sweet. The classes, workshops and performances were presented in perfect harmony, and were flawless in their unfolding. Many of our musicians and dancers gave their best performances ever and the sound engineers were spectacular! Everyone played their part with kindness and competence and did a wonderful job. Overall, it was as good as an organizing team could ever hope for.
As one guest said to me - "100 years from now people will still be talking about this amazing gathering.” I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that I will certainly never forget it. The closing ceremony alone was the most beautiful night of my life, the icing on a very exquisite and delicious cake.
And even though our team was buckling and crumbling under the weight in the background (holding space for three intense weeks, while amassing €30,000 in debt will tend to do that), I am grateful that we managed to keep it (mostly) from the eyes and ears of our guests. And if the most sensitive of you felt that there was something “wrong” under the surface, there is your answer.
For me personally, our low ticket sales and subsequent debt, led to the most stressful and disappointing time of my life. We put together a jaw-dropping program and yet we only sold about half our available tickets. Everyone involved believed this was the year we would celebrate our first full house, but instead, we fell flat on our face. Never had I felt like such a failure and fool. I felt like I let our team down. I felt like I let our whole community down.
During the LISTEN week, Ellaya and Netanel spread out some two hundred Rumi cards during their morning concert. I was the very last person to pull a card and this is what it read:
“Work. Keep digging your well. Don’t think about getting off from work. Water is there somewhere. Submit to a daily practice.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there.”
Until I pulled that card, I was ready to quit. In fact, I was contemplating with friends to announce that same evening, that 2017 would be our last gathering. As tears rolled down my face, I stared out to the beautiful Corfu sea and vowed to keep digging for water, and that is what I have been doing every day since.
Thankfully, after a few months of processing in solitude, I found peace again, and forgiveness for myself. Time had given me enough distance and perspective to see the bigger picture, and the incredible gift this experience had given me. It gave me even more motivation to do and be better, and gave me a renewed vigor to make these gatherings even more powerful, beautiful and transformational.
However, after building a beautiful movement in Corfu, it became crystal clear last summer that it was time to leave the nest, and start digging elsewhere. Admittedly, it’s a little scary and of course risky. But nothing is as scary or risky as staying in the same place, when you know in your heart it’s well past the time to move on. No bird has ever experienced the glory of flight by staying in its tiny little nest…
I can understand that some of you in our tribe are wanting and waiting to see some stability and successes before committing to a future with us. I just want to remind everyone that we are still in our infancy, and since our inception only 4 years ago, we have grown considerably, and each year we have offered an increasingly more beautiful event. This year we have taken a well needed break, but in 2019, I promise you all that we will return to create new and even more powerful gatherings with ever more bounteousness, exquisiteness and depth. With the help of our planetary kin, we will create a wave of love and beauty that will circle the globe and light the cosmos on fire for years to come.
Dear Ones, it is time for us to fly to the farthest reaches of the planet, discovering new lands and meeting new peoples. Guided by the heart, we will feel our way over the seven seas to plant our seeds of unity and creativity. To you who have read this far, I say thank you, and please know that you are welcome to be with us every step of the way…
I recently pulled another Rumi card which hammered everything home for me:
“Gamble everything for Love if you’re a true human being.
If not, leave this gathering.”
I Love these gatherings and the sweet, gentle tribe that has formed around them. I have and will continue to gamble everything for this Love, a love that is energized and galvanized by purpose and passion. I hope you will join me in this great gamble, and help me spread these seeds of love and joy to the four corners of this planet.
In closing, I would like to apologize to a handful of individuals who left our tribe this past year feeling hurt, unseen, or unrecognized. You know who you are. I acknowledge that I have been an overbearing father - quite stubborn and hard at times in my attempt to protect this gathering and its vision. At times I also did not listen to the needs of those yearning to be heard and seen, and I am sorry for this. I have come to know my shadows and shortcomings well, and included in those are emotional reaction, anger and intolerance. Within those shadows lie the gifts of forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, patience and (inner) revolution. I wish to share these gifts with you once again too. I hope this declaration serves as a balm to reach healing and closure, so that we may continue the work of creating a more beautiful world TOGETHER.
In the meantime, my door, and the door of these gatherings is open to one and all, now and forever more.
In PEACE & LOVE may we TRUST.
Sarvaan is the founder and creative director of S&S Gatherings, and he loves to write! Here is a collection of some of his writings, musings and sharings. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you!