Letter to the friends of Baraka, December 2019
Dear friends, supporters, and dearest first alumni! I hope that the following words and pictures take you deeper into our currents experience and efforts in Baraka. Thanks you everyone for your support and kindness. Thank you also to Baška, Matej and Zuzka for creating this ‘autumn reflection’, which I recommend for enjoyment with a warm cup of tea.
Do you know that magical feeling when you look at the colorful beauty of the autumn trees? Different shades of red, yellow, brown…Autumn provides us with the opportunity to stop and stand in awe of the world around us, even in the midst of the everyday rush.
Since September, Baraka is back on track. We, the ten new Baraka residents (+David & Zuzka), took over from last year ́s participants. We realize that Baraka is similar to an autumn tree: full of color. It is composed of 12 new leaves: seven of which are ‘super-seniors’, one an adult ‘junior’, one a Bilgym alumnus, and three work full-time for the school.
Sunset during our November weekend-away at a cabin in the village of Studienka
From the very beginning we are discovering the meaning of the word ‘baraka’ (’blessing’) in everyday life. We start our days at 6.45am with breakfast (trying not to be late, but there are a few minutes left for some of us to reach perfection). We created a special schedule for preparing the meals and cleaning the dishes. For morning inspirations, we read extracts from Václav Havel ́s prison letters, Psalms, chapters from our favorite books, or listen to our favorite songs. These last two weeks, we’ve been reading our favorite poems.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays we meet for dinner made by two of us (with cooking time approx. 2hours). It ́s a great opportunity to get to know each other better and to show (or to improve) our cooking skills with the obvious goal of becoming the best chef in Baraka. We have made several excellent meals: three different types of lasagna, different variations of garlic soups or chicken with honey sauce. When it comes to birthdays of the Baraka members, we never forget to celebrate with a birthday cake!
Evening together at the cabin. The topic of our time was identity.
Like last year, we cooperate with the Great Works Academy – through workshops, we learn to discover the beauty and depth of famous paintings, music compositions and literature. We went through poems by Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinskij and Guernica by Pablo Picasso. The last of these (or more precisely, it’s copy) ended on our dining hall wall next to Rembrandt ́s The return of the Prodigal Son from last year).
Much of this was very similiar to the last year. What is new?
Based on the suggestions of our friends from L’abri, we have become more intentional with the structure of the month: every week in a month is now dedicated to four various activities: discussions with guests, group work on our ecological project, seminar about selected art masterpiece or a study time. Concerning our guests, these included Daniel & Jarka Pastirčák, Ralph and Bony Gatti, with their American-Croatian friends James & Petra (check their project here: http://www.ecswp.org/) and friends and co-workers from D3 and Bilgym. They encouraged us with their life stories and experiences.
The goal of the ecological project is to help Bilgym students realize the importance of the ecology and sustainability. Practically, it means being more proactive in the cleaning of the school park and creating and implementing a strategy to encourage students to recycle more. On other Thursday evenings, we watch movies or have community meetings during which we reflect on our time together. Recently, we had a heated discussion about improving our cleaning system (especially in the kitchen) and encouraging each other to go to bed earlier. We also try to think of our fitness through sports, dancing tango or going for a walk.
A new feature of this year is couching, which consists of walks between David and the boys and Zuzka and the girls which take place every second weeks.
That ́s about it for the beginning of the second year of Baraka. We wish you all a nice finish of autumn and beginning of Advent. We wish you would find the time to pause for a moment and be amazed. Thank you for everything!
Evening at Baraka with our guests from the US and from Croatia. The theme of the evening was vocation.
At our Soiree evening for family and friends, we prepared various workshops, including an ecological one!
One of the perks of living in the school building is being able to use the school equipment. And doing so with style.