|Midwestern Dhamma Refuge
grounded in contemplative practice
for a peaceful, just, & sustainable society
… to everyone who carried Liberation Park through 2011 while Santikaro underwent treatment and recovery from Lymphoma. Santikaro was not able to teach for most of this year, and we have never operated with many funds in reserve. We were humbled and awed by the depth of support, help and kindness shown us by family, friends, Santi’s students and supporters of Liberation Park. Thanks to the generosity of many, Liberation Park has survived the year. We extend special thanks to friends in Thailand who were able to get Santi timely medical care at a critical time and deliver him safely home. Their fundraising efforts also covered most of his out of pocket medical expenses, providing us much needed relief. Fundraising from sanghas around the states made sure the mortgage continued to be paid, and that construction on Liberation Park’s “Caretaker’s Cabin” continued. Endless volunteer labor from family and friends helped us hold down the fort on all fronts. Rochester Meditation Center welcomed us as 2nd floor roommates for our tenure in Rochester. All we can say is “we had no idea…..” No idea how much a catastrophic illness demands, no idea how much we would need, no idea that we would be the recipients of more kindness than we can ever hope to return. We feel grateful, exhausted, more empathetic, more aware of the impermanence and frailty of all things, and more inspired to make a worthy offering of Liberation Park as a Dhamma refuge for the benefit of beings. Thank You!
Though we spent much of the year in Rochester, some progress at Liberation Park did continue. Family and friends have done amazing work on the Caretaker’s Cabin and finally we are almost ready to move in. It looks BEAUTIFUL thanks to the diligence and skill of many. Our neighbor Jon graded, improved and graveled the farm road. We obtained some scythes and instructional videos, and made some valiant attempts to mow the prairie areas seeded last fall, whenever there were a few moments. Generally, there weren’t many free moments and care of the newly seeded areas was suboptimal. We won’t know until next summer if many of our native seeds managed to survive the general lack of care and attention. We keep fingers crossed.
In October, with Santi safely home from Rochester we had the pleasure of hosting Tender Shoot of Joy Sangha on a weekend of walks, meditation and cider pressing. We hope to continue the growing friendship between LP and TSOJ. TSOJ has begun a dana fund with LP towards the first permanent hermitage and we look eagerly forward to the day construction can begin.
With slowly increasing energy, Santi has resumed teaching regionally and has been able to travel to Chicago, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and Eau Claire. In February he’ll try his first longer retreat with a return to Cloud Mountain in Washington State February 3rd 10th. A return to Thailand had been tentatively planned for this winter or spring but devastating flooding in Thailand has prevented plans from moving forward. We ask that all keep our Thai friends and Dhamma forebears in their hearts during this very difficult time.
This year of illness and recovery has coincided with the ending of what we are beginning to term: Liberation Park phase one a time of initial reconnaissance, establishing a relationship and familiarity with the valley, forming basic infrastructure, connecting with area sanghas, and generally getting our bearings. This phase has lasted longer than we could have imagined when we first came to live here, but also seems to be unfolding as all things do that is, just right and just so. A Phase Two seems to be forming itself now and calling us to do things a little differently. We feel ready, trusting enough, and in some ways mandated by a recognition of our own limitations, to begin involving others in advising and forming the particulars of Liberation Park’s unfolding. The coming year will be spent in large part attending to this transition. We hope to plant the seeds for a greater blossoming of efforts towards an inhabitable refuge here in the valley. With the help of a larger advisory and leadership circle we hope to build on the established infrastructure and plan towards the necessary buildings: a community building, a meditation hall, and 6 or so small hermitages. More importantly we hope to build on the established Dhamma foundations to allow a refuge to emerge in this little valley that will nourish and sustain the peace and understanding that eases suffering in all its forms.
On the practical level we look forward to a year of completing and cleaning up the various building projects in progress, cutting and pruning apple trees, nurturing the prairie areas, painting buildings, and tackling the enormous job of mending and replacing the ancient boundary fence.
We also hope to resume welcoming all to come for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks to enjoy the rustic “camp style” hermitages currently in use (wall tents) during the 2012 season. This year we can offer somewhat more infrastructure comfort than in years past as a permanent bathroom and kitchen are available in the caretaker’s cabin. Please call ahead, we will be happy to welcome you.
In Dhamma, With Metta,
Santikaro & Jo Marie