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Strawberry Social: The "U" in Community

June 18, 2008 by Lightwaves

With preparations in full swing for this year’s Strawberry Social, two yoginis reflect on the importance of community and celebrating together.

Imagine a strawberry.  Feel it between your fingers and marvel at the colour, the sheen between the tiny golden seeds, each like a small jewel pressed into the soft red surface.  Hold the strawberry to your nose and smell the uplifting, inviting aroma.  Then bite into it and taste the rich, juicy sweetness.

No wonder this community event, the Strawberry Social, took the strawberry as its central theme.  This red fruit represents the rich abundance of beginning summer.  People feel it, and they come to the Social to experience and enjoy the richness of the season and to celebrate it with the community.  We gather with friends and neighbours, enjoy offerings of music, strawberries and conversation.  People flip through piles of used books to find treasures for hardly any cost.

In the weeks before the social, I am often asked, “When is it being held this year?”  The ashram has opened its doors in a generous spirit to the community through the social and the result is that people have discovered the ashram for themselves.  An increase has occurred in community members bringing their summer visitors to walk around the grounds, visit the temple and bookstore.  They feel comfortable and welcome doing so.

It’s a joyful afternoon, full of good cheer.  I’ve been to every one and the feeling stays the same each year.  Hope to meet you all there sometime. – community member Alanda Greene.

My thoughts are turning to the upcoming Strawberry Social. This is the thirteenth time the Ashram has offered the event that draws hundreds of people from the local communities.

There is a spirit of goodwill, generosity and service that infuses the Strawberry Social.  For me the sweetness of the fruit connects with the sweetness of everyone coming together in this way.  It’s like Prasad, which symbolizes the sweetness of the teachings that are offered at the Ashram.

The first strawberry social happened not long after Swami Radha passed away.  I thought of it as a symbolic opening up of the inheritance she left us and a sharing of the wealth with everyone.  The teachings that she gave us are a treasure.

I have learned a lot from the Strawberry Socials. I’ve discovered there is a direct link between the ripening of strawberries and deepening one’s faith.

In the early years I had some sleepless nights wondering what we’d do if there were no strawberries for the Social. It didn’t matter how much the local growers assured us the berries would be ready, they didn’t really know until just before the event.  I had images of driving to Nelson and buying up all the frozen strawberries in the stores.  Or, I wondered, what it would be like to serve blueberries at the Strawberry Social.

My fellow Ashram residents encouraged me to relax, and I began to follow this advice.  Each year the berries have ripened on time.  Somehow it’s all worked out perfectly in the end.

A few days ago a friend told me he’d seen a newspaper posted at a local strawberry grower’s patch.  The headline was – “Strawberries Weeks Behind Due to Cold Weather”.   I realized I’d changed when I heard myself laughing.  Whatever happens, it will be perfectly sweet, like the taste of fresh ripe strawberries. – Ashram resident Arnon Thompson

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