|Midwestern Dhamma Refuge
grounded in contemplative practice
for a peaceful, just, & sustainable society
please click on images for larger view
During 2013 we continued our long and slow but immensely fulfilling process of creating a place of Dhamma refuge in this beautiful valley. To our great delight the prairie seeds planted three years ago on the main hillside sprang to life with brilliance. The weather was mostly amenable to outdoor work and to the building projects of the year. A lovely new hermitage was created in the back valley and plans for a main guest house were formulated. New friends were welcomed, and some sad goodbyes were said. Santi’s health thrived and he enjoyed a full teaching schedule. Most of all we continued to walk this mysterious and sometimes surprising path in search of deeper Dhamma understanding.
Early in the year the building committee set about siting and planning the first four season wood-heated meditation hermitage in the back valley. As the year unfolded, so did the hermitage, with most lovely results (starting | framing | progress | wrapping). There are a few finishing pieces to complete, but this sweet meditation space has already been put to use sheltering guests. Please come have a look. We hope for 3 additional hermitages to arise as labor and funding are available. Special kudos for & gratitude to Carlo Giombi for design, creativity, donated materials, getting the structure up & roofed, and more. This makes five summers in a row that he's had a significant helpful & companionable presence at LP.
The second building committee project of the year focused on creating plans for the main Guest House which will provide comfortable cooking, bathing, laundry and gathering facilities for retreatants and other guests. The Guest House will replace the camp style facilities that have been the mainstay for guests since Liberation Park moved to this valley. The building will also house the LP office, allowing us to close the office we have maintained a mile away in the village of Norwalk. Also included in the plans are two rooms for longer term guests, or those who are not up to the more tasking walk to hermitages in the back valley.
This building will be the most ambitious we have embarked on, and also the most vital. With some trepidation, we have come to the conclusion that this project will require a departure from our customary and much preferred methods of building slowly, sans fundraising and with volunteer labor.
This building is of a larger scope then can be completed in a timely way by strictly volunteer labor. A building contractor, with the associated costs, will need to be retained. With a strong wish for the LP refuge to be available to a broader population than the sturdy campers who currently roam the valley, we have decided to take the leap, swallow our trepidation and Fundraise.
We expect this process to be a one-time endeavor. We will need to raise somewhere around $175,000. With $20,000 in seed money at this time we hope to complete fundraising in 2014. You may see an appeal for funds arrive in your mailbox sometime this winter or spring. If you’re moved to contribute now, the Paypal button awaits here :) Please specify that your donation is for the Guest House, if that is the case. We eagerly look forward to offering more comfortable guest facilities!
On October 5th, fifty-plus friends of LP gathered for an Open House. A wonderful meal was contributed by many and enjoyed by all. The occasional rain and mist added ambience, and the large tent provided shelter. Apple cider was pressed; walks were enjoyed; the new hermitage was viewed; Guest House sketches were unveiled; new acquaintances were made. Many, many thanks to all who contributed their time, effort and organizational skills to the day! It was a great success and enjoyed by all.
Santi is now back to a full teaching schedule, including trips to Europe and Siam. He continues to thrive in the opportunities to explore Dhamma with Sanghas near and far, old friends and new, as well as retreatants at LP. Teaching as practice refines his own understanding and challenges others to dig into the Early Buddhist teachings with the help of Ajahn Buddhadasa. His just completed trip to Siam continued on-going work with Enneagram students, 12 Step programmers, and meditators. The heart of the trip was the annual meditation retreat that incorporates Enneagram insights into Dhamma practice. (Images from the trip are here.)
Of special note, collaboration with the Buddhadasa Indapanyo Archives continues to grow. In addition to Santi teaching at the Bangkok campus, we explored ways to coordinate translation efforts across a range of languages, including developing a new website for on-line publications. Lastly, the Archives are looking for ways to support our mission here, especially the aspects connected with Ajahn Buddhadasa.
We wish to heartily welcome new Board Members Joe Orso of La Farge and Rodney Sanchez of Milwaukee. Each brings a love of the Liberation Park valley, friendship, wisdom and many practical skills to their work with LP. We are very lucky to have their guidance and assistance. Founding board member Jennifer Malin ended her nine year tenure with the board this year and continues in an advisory role. Her friendship and longtime support are much valued and we wish to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU!
Deep Thank Yous are also extended to Bethany Sanchez, Ann Leeds, Adrianne Orso, Becky Giombi, Peter Kauffman, Dallas Thompson, Doug Nopar, Samuel and Mervin Miller, Martha Lee Turner, Ellen McCammon, Scott Chambers, and Jason Veloon for their event organizing, hermitage building, and/or general advisement, support, love and friendship.
We offer special thanks to Doug Bartley of St. Louis who spent the entire summer offering unflagging and uncomplaining labor of all sorts, along with Dhamma curiosity and good-will. We couldn’t have managed the summer without him.
We extend a joyful welcome to Siporah Orso, daughter of Adrianne and Joe Orso. Siporah was eagerly awaited (and awaited!) and finally made her entrance in March. She supervised the hermitage siting in the spring and currently oversees the building of her parent’s house, along with periodically checking on progress here.
Good friends and valley compatriots Coleman the cat and Ruth the goose met the end of their lives this year. They were each important stewards of the valley. Ruth probably lost her life protecting her ducks and her partner Grace who miss her very much. We miss both their cheerful presences every day.
Jo Marie & Santikaro
December Solstice 2013