Hannah's NM Street Retreat
Organized by: Hannah Coakley
EVENT DATE Jul 03, 2016
Hi everyone, I must admit that this is a strange message to be writing, but please bear with me and read on... A major part of the "socially engaged" aspect of "socially engaged Buddhism" that serves as a cornerstone for Upaya is a practice founded approximately 25 years ago called Street Retreat.
Street Retreats happen all over the country several times a year. They are an opportunity for practitioners in this tradition to delve deeply into an issue that is too often overlooked or shied away from in America...homelessness.
Street retreat participants commit to spending 5 days living on the streets - with no money and only a small plastic bag of possessions. We live and sleep entirely on the streets - use cardboard boxes for bedding, receive our food from shelters and churches, do not bathe, have no personal phones (there is one emergency phone), and generally live as if we had suddenly found ourselves homeless.
The purpose of this practice is manifold: it is to challenge our perceptions of one of the most stigmatized states of being in this country, to force us far from our comfort zone so that we may embrace the unknown, to become intimate with the conditions of poverty and invisibility within our cities -- the list is long.
Essentially, it is a time for confronting our deepest social, personal fears and seeing what lays within and beyond them.
While we are on the street, we do not ask for money, because we - of course - do not need it (not the way we need food). However, it remains important that myself and those attending also learn what it is to beg - to extend a hand without expectation, ready to accept whatever response we receive in return.
This fundraiser is just that. My outstretched hand asking for any amount of funds you would be willing to give to support this experience. The money will go directly to me at first (this is also an aspect...how do we trust the people we donate money to?) But, at the end of the retreat, we pool our donations and split the funds evenly among every shelter we utilize.
Additionally, for every individual donation, I will add a bead to my mala, or sacred bracelet, that serves to commemorate this experience. I will also send an email at the close of the retreat to everyone who donated so that they know a little about my experience and where the money in fact went.
I am hoping you will find an interest in giving, even if it is just $1, as you would to someone you pass on a street corner. Whatever amount resonates with you, honestly.
And if you have any questions about the practice, even if you don't want to donate, I am happy to engage in conversation around it. I, too, have my concerns and questions, but see the potential for tremendous value in this experience.
Please put your name to the donation so I know who to send an update to. And please be sure to put in your donation by July 3rd, as that is when we will allocate the money.
If you are interested in learning more about street retreats around the country and their history, the link is here: http://zenpeacemakers.org/street-retreats-2/