Northern Lights Sangha Celebrates Twenty Years
This year we have been celebrating our sangha’s twentieth birthday. Northern Lights was
founded in Findhorn after a retreat with Thay at St. Andrews in 2003, his last visit to
Scotland. It has met almost every week since then.
On September 2nd, we had a day of mindfulness to mark the anniversary. Sangha
members came from far and wide, some we hadn’t seen in years. In the lovely gardens at
Cullerne, in rare sunshine, about thirty of us gathered among the flowers. Susanne Olbrich,
one of the founders and now a Dharma teacher, opened and closed the day; we created a
“living timeline,” standing in order of our first appearance in the sangha. Roland Spencer-
Jones, another veteran who now co-leads a sangha in Inverness, held sitting and walking
meditations. Margot Henderson, another founder, led sangha songs of her own creation,
including one that Sister Chan Khong recorded for Thay at a retreat in Nottingham; she also
had us writing tributes on “leaves” that we hung from a magnificent linden tree. The sharing
that followed was moving and profound, reminding us of the life-changing and healing
power of sangha, manifesting the legacy of Thay alive in our midst.
The delicious pot-luck lunch was followed by mindful movements led by Margot on
the green, and then by a “be-in” above the pond, led by Jane Ellen Combelic. We shared
poems, songs, stories and much happiness. Finally, what we’d all been waiting for — cake!
There was a whole table full of wonderful cakes, contributed by bakers among us. We sang
the Plum Village birthday song to ourselves with much laughter and joy. We ended the day
with our traditional bows, one facing inward, to the sangha and to Thay in gratitude, and
one facing outward, sending blessings into the world wherever they are needed. May the
happiness and healing of our practice ripple out in waves of love.