2022 Winter Retreat

The Canada geese have now been back in our marsh for a couple of weeks. No matter the actual calendar date, this is the sign we await to mark the beginning of Spring and, with it, the nearing of the Winter retreat’s end. Today we had a pair of new visitors at mealtime, marking another change, another ‘year,’ when the Tisarana community shifts into its more active mode.

Before doing so, some reflections on the past three months. Along with our long-term Stewards (Niraso, Karano, Michelle), this year we had a harmonious group of full- or nearly full-time retreatants (Viboon, Teri, Tid James, Curtis) to assist in the normal kitchen and cleaning duties as well as the seasonal snow clearing. Anagarikas Aidan and Daniel also served in the kitchen as well as in their functions as monastics-in-training. Tan Amarasiri led regular chanting sessions and Dhamma instruction (in addition to various office and accounting duties). Ajahn Pavaro offered several diversionary slide shows of Asian sites and pilgrimages. In addition to leading the community in the three hour period of meditation observed for three weeks each month, Luang Por Viradhammo set daily tone with a reading from Ajahn Jayasaro’s inspiring biography of Luang Por Chah. Quiet practice filled the remaining periods. And so, governed by the exigencies of the Canadian Winter, the community engaged in another precious opportunity to investigate the heart of Dhamma.

Now that temperatures are warming we’re beginning to engage again in the necessary practical matters entailed in maintenance, repair, building, gardening, and basic Spring cleaning. Tan Sirimedho returned from his heartening sojourn in Thailand on the first day of April in order to participate in fullness in what’s to come. Later this month we are expecting to see the beginning of the Dhamma Hall construction, in the form of the early excavation work, and Sirimedho is keen to continue his involvement.

This is the big event for the remainder of 2022 and beyond. As supporters and readers of the website will know, in the past months the Dhamma Hall has basically come to a ‘fully realized’ state… on paper, at least. Our team of excavators and builders is now set to begin the initial phases of work. Regular communication and meetings pertaining to schedules, budgets, materials, and supply chains will, in coming weeks, transition into the actual breaking of ground and arrival of materials and skilled tradespeople.

Some time ago, as Luang Por and I were heading towards the Bhikkhu Vihara I glanced Eastwards over the grassy area where trees have been removed to accommodate the Dhamma Hall. I remarked to my Abbot that with the diggers, dirt, gravel, and concrete forms the area would soon be a big mess. Luang Por responded with a grin, ‘I can hardly wait!’