A group of 12 final year technology students, men and women, from Mar Baselios College of Engineering, Peermedu had an exceptional get together at the Kudil-Hermitage in the woods of Kerala’s High Ranges on September 2, 2016.
Together with their chaplain Fr Kuruvilla Perumal, Fr Sanjay Geevarghese, Deacon Geo Joseph and Fr KMGeorge they started walking down the hill early in the morning to the wooded banks of Moonnattumukku or The Three -River- Confluence on the way to The Kudil-Hermitage (Kudil means Hut) of Saha Dharma Sangha, a spiritual Fellowship of friends.
A new bridge was being constructed by the local authorities across the forest streams at Moonnattumukku . We began our meditation there, contemplating the sharp contrast between the free flowing stream and the stark, concrete bridge rising above. In silence we watched the refreshing stream enriched by the monsoon rains and listened to the melody of the playful, dancing, frothing, mountain brook passing under the stiff and immobile structure of the bridge in steel and cement. We spent time in silence, and then reflected on the strange connection ( ?) between human Technology and Nature’s rhythm.
Then we climbed up the steep, rugged leech-ridden path to the Kudil hermitage. Reaching the top we checked our feet for any tiny blood- sucking leeches. Since the Monsoon rains were still continuing they are aplenty in the wet grass and woods. Yes, some feet were bleeding…. But one gets used to it.
Up in the hermitage the students started cleaning the premises, and removed all the dust and dry leaves brought in by mountain wind in the open veranda.
And we settled down for some deep reflection on the hospitality of nature, on how nature receives and nourishes us, on the sensitivity of plants and tress from the examples of the little creeper touch-me- not to the huge rain trees, on the constantly varying moods of the sky and the vegetation, on how the trees and plants respond to the Circadian cycle of 24 hours, on how we join them in praising the Creator, and how we in our worship imitate them at the junctures of time like 6 in the morning ,6 in the evening, 3rd hour, midday, midnight , 9th hour, the Brhama muhoortha and so on.
12.30 – midday prayers and intercessions. Fr Sanjay had prepared for us boiled tapioca/cassava roots and hot chili chutney with black coffee, once part of the traditional staple food of poor people in Kerala. The chutney was so hot though very mouth watering , that some of us began to shed tears ….!!
By sheer chance one of us then spotted jack fruits high up on a tree at a distance in the woods. Some of the daring students immediately went down to the murky, leechy, and rather inaccessible place, climbed the tree , and brought back huge delicious fruits in the rain. Jackfruits were really out of season, but unusually tasty, and sweet – a wonderful antidote to the bitingly hot chili chutney.
Our reflection then turned to the generous gift of nature. We hadn’t expected anything like this fresh fruit for a dessert. The students also gathered some sweet, wild guava. It was simply amazing how we had a nice fellowship meal…the simplest food possible in our region. Yet, it was sumptuous, joyful…
The day ended with a little reflective meditation on the living mango tree that serves as the Tree of the Cross as well as the mainstay of the little rustic Chapel of Transfiguration attached to the Hut. The symbolism of the Tree for the Cross of Christ is multi-layered.
We sang a hymn of thanksgiving for the Beautiful Creation of God, remembered and prayed for all those who suffer pain and injustice in our world, and committed ourselves to a new order of friendliness and communion between human beings and all the rest of God ‘s creation.
The students put on the wall of the Hut a wooden plaque with the inscription.: NEVER STOP WONDERING. NEVER STOP WANDERING.
(Thanks to the MGOCSM unit, and the voluntary spirit of the engineering students)
Fr K M George.
2 September 2016.)