Taking Root

This past Wednesday Joan and I drove out to the Hermitage to get the tents ready for the monks. We aimed to get ourselves off the land before they showed up for their first night of Vassa and though we arrived a full two hours later than originally intending, our mission was accomplished. Still, upon arriving I was feeling a bit of pressure to hurry up and finish which made for a mindfully unpleasant few moments, heh, heh, heh. Sweat poured and ankles bent as we trecked up and down the hillside till finally the tents were in good order. Joan headed back up the hill to prepare our lunch while I shot a few photos. If you ever do anything with Joan and she offers to make you lunch? . . . you really want to take her up on it!

It was nice to share the meal offering with Ashleigh today; walking in with bags full of food and seeing the monks conversing near a shrine was like entering an honest to goodness monastery.

Yesterday Greg and Adrienne brought their children to the Hermitage and offered the monks their first Vassa meal. They also made an offering to the Sanghata Foundation; a beautiful marble Buddha rupa. You can see it below just to the right of Ajahn Sudanto (left side of photo). A beautiful expression. I feel fortunate to be part of such a community as this.

This ‘practice-run’ for a possible monastery taking root near the Portland area certainly has its challenges, as any large scale project must. Still the foundation so far laid is also bearing some tasty fruits: witnessng amazing generosity, meeting well with challenging deadlines and sharing aspirations with others; all the while strengthening old and new friendships.

Ajahn Sudanto’s mother summed up this Hermitage adventure in a charming if not ‘mortherly’ way; “it’s a dream come true isn’t it?”
Yes, it certainly is, and a good one at that!

Good Folk, Nice Welcome, Awesome Atmosphere

Ajahn Sudanto and Tan Karunadhammo arrived yesterday late afternoon. After a nights rest and a hearty meal, Scott came by and drove the monks and myself out to the Hermitage land. Alistair was there, Michael and Mimi too, getting a tent set up for viewing.

It was a very good feeling to see Tan Karunadhammo inside the kuti and on the land where he’ll spend the next three months in retreat. I was surprised at just how beautiful the setting seemed as I’ve been there so many times before. Something about seeing the monks on the land, the tent up and the walking path complete, added a lovely element of worthy purpose to my emotional atmosphere.

Tomorrow we work on finishing the second tent site, build steps in the trails and quietly celebrate the fruition of our good efforts.

As silly as this may sound, the day was filled with happy, smiling faces. Micheal and Mimi invited neighbors over for tea, introduced the monks and casually visited. Good folk, nice welcome, awesome atmosphere. This feels good . . .

The Doors Are Open

My grandson Maxwell will soon have my attention in full check, till then I’ll scribble down a very quick update . . .

Four of us were back out in Mosier yesterday. Mimi and I worked on putting order to the cookhouse while the remaining crew of four continued to dig, pound and level. A strong and pleasant breeze made known the benefits of sweat while keeping the bees at a distance.

Having finally finished the platforms, Alistair set up one of the tents. It was fun to add a sense of accomplishment to all the dirty and difficult work so many have put in thus far. When Mimi and I saw the finished tent and platform for the first time we immediatelly indulged in an imaginary design competition for ‘Best’ interior. She won hands down with the addition of small Tibetan throw rugs, which was a pleasure to bow to.

Ajahn Sudanto saw this photo and sent it back to me after he PhotoShopped himself sitting inside. He titled (what I refer to as his masterpiece) “Imagine” and said it was fun to think of himself sitting there for the summer months . . . nice work don’t you agree?

Cool Breezes, Hot Coffee and Spirtual Friends

Woke up this morning to a cool breeze and smiling companion wispering “let’s make some coffee and head down to the center so we can say goodmorning to Scott before he heads out to land.”

It is pleasant to live with a generous spirit whose first words encourage the mind toward the efforts of Alms. We dress and head downstairs, Alistair veers to the right to make coffee while I veer to left to check my new blog site. With his encouragement I walk pass the computer and water the potted plants instead.

We meander up the PFoD stairwell where Had, Jennifer and Scott are just gathering themselves together to head off for what will surely be a very hot day of digging and hammering. Scott the decisioner, Had the go-lucky, and Jennifer the toilet hole maker jump into the S.U.V. with big smiles and waving hands while we return home where I open this blog and sip the hot coffee Alistair is now pouring. Community, meditation groups, kalyanamitta, all have their challenges (of which I’m sure to write of from time to time;) thank goodness they also have their blessings.

Preparing for the Summer Hermitage

6:00 a.m.
Meditating in the early morning with a few friends is a pleasant way to begin a full days work. With the Summer Hermitage quickly approaching a few Upasika’s gathered for mediation, chanting and taking of precepts. The streets outside are unusually quiet, or maybe my mind simply lands on the sound of the birds lyrical chatter. Either way I welcome this calm beginning to the full day of community work ahead.

7:00 a.m.
Coffee and pastries welcome us back to the sensual realm. With great restraint I manage to avoid smacking my fingers as I break into a third bit of muffin.

Our numbers have grown from five to nine as we pile into cars and head out to the land in Mosier where we continue the work of preparing Micheal and Mimi’s land for the monks from Abhayagiri. Scott is the designated work manager and points us in varied directions. Being an artist I am happy to share responsibility with Ashleigh to do the finishing painting and plaster work in the yet-to-be-completed cookhouse.

12:00 noon
We break for meal and as usual the potluck proves abundant and delicious. Most the folks have been hurling large pieces of lumber down the steep hillsides, digging latrines and building platforms. For them the strong breeze must surely be a lovely compliment to our expanding bellies. I enjoy this part of the day; hungry, sweaty, tired and happily sharing the log tossing, latrine digging, paint dripping adventures.

3:00 p.m.
Ashleigh and I finish our work and decide to clean up and head down to the bottom of the hill to see what the others are up to. There’s Jennifer swinging a pickaxe while Scott, Alistair and Mike review the exact location of where the shade will most likely fall when the monks first rise from their kuti’s.

Ok, so they are dripping in sweat, as is Jennifer too, still, its quite a priceless picture don’t you think? Jennifer looks up and beams a big smile, hoist her tools atop her shoulders and heads up the hill. I follow her because she’s my ride back to Portland. Once on top she shares her joy in digging the toilet, so much so that she’s volunteer to come back on Tuesday and make it a wee bit deeper yet.

All in all, a very good day, with very good people, doing a very good thing for a very good reason; getting ready for the monks who will visit, give Dhamma and receive Alms.