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A journey to via integralis Latvia

by Jürgen Lembke

From 8 to 11 October, Hildegard Schmittfull, Spiritual Director AD, and Jürgen Lembke, President of via integralis, were guests at via integralis Latvia to attend the ceremonial appointment of the course graduates of the Lassalle Contemplation School together with the course leaders. The impressions of this journey give an insight into this active via integralis branch on Europe’s eastern border.

Hildegard associated this visit with the conclusion of her commitment to the development of via integralis Latvia. Bernhard Stappel, who also contributed to the organization over the years, was unable to attend for family reasons. The further development of via integralis in Latvia and in Central Europe will continue to be closely coordinated in the future. The invitation of representatives from Switzerland to this celebration expresses this. The two branches will continue to support each other and maintain good cooperation.

After a short flight from Zurich, we were warmly welcomed in Riga by our guide Ivo Strante and taken to the hotel. The next morning we drove two and a half hours by car from there to the place of celebration. To our surprise, our destination was not the well-established House of Elijah, where Inga and Juris Rubenis had accompanied hundreds of people on the path of contemplation, but the new retreat centre “Stacija”.

The new retreat centre Stacija, 400 m from Elijas Nams and 300 m from the Baltic Sea.

The Stacija is a plot of land laid out around an old railway station, about 400 m from Elijas Nams, with Soviet-era buildings that were part of an army camp in the then exclusion zone along the Baltic Sea. This property was purchased by Filips and Lita, Juris and Inga’s son and daughter-in-law respectively. Since then, it has been successively converted into a retreat centre that will provide accommodation for over thirty people. Various thematic camps for young people are already taking place at this place of silence.

On the doorstep between the completed contemplation hall and the main building, which is still in the process of being renovated.

On 12 October 2021, the 16 participants of the four-year contemplation teacher training course were appointed. The celebration took place in the contemplation hall, tastefully designed with selected materials and light. The room forms the heart of the main building, which, currently, is still a construction site.

The group of newly appointed contemplation teachers with course leaders and guests of honour

The mood among those present was festive and lively, befitting the occasion. The joy was on the faces of all the newly appointed contemplation teachers, all of them middle-aged. It was touching to see the signs of deep connection with Indulis Paičs, Inga and Juris Rubenis, who had co-led this course. The three were honoured with selected gifts. For example, with an original temple bell from the Zen monastery of Nagoya in Japan.

Inauguration of the temple bell at its new destination

On Sunday evening we went back to Riga. Here Inga and Juris introduced us to the “Egg”, a seminar centre that is being built in a central location in Riga. In the future, leaders will be taught the culture of silence and integral thinking here. The building is scheduled for completion in 2022. We are already looking forward to seeing you at the opening.

Inga Rubena, Juris Rubenis and Hildegard Schmittfull in Riga in front of the seminar centre, which is currently being built.