By Amma Thanasanti
As meditation practitioners, we are encouraged to notice change, contemplate it regularly, and make friends with it. Certainly, when things that we don’t want change, we are happy. We feel gladness not having something irksome continue. We rejoice and we share in each other’s gladness. We experience loss when we are faced with letting go of what we love and cherish, hold dear to our hearts. As friends and community, we can support each other as we process grief and sadness and attend to the myriad of other feelings and logistical considerations that accompany loss and change.
I’m writing from Santa Rosa, California where I have been staying since the beginning of June in the lovely home of Susan Carney a mature meditation practitioner and retired Geriatric Social worker who is part of our emergent Santa Rosa community. I’m here helping my dear Mom, Marley, who now at the age of 86, needs more support. Over a few months she lost a lot of sight. Her eye doctor is giving her treatments to slow down the vision loss, but said that what has been lost won’t return. It isn’t clear yet how effective the treatments are. But what is clear is that Mom needs more support and is planning on moving into an assisted living facility. Gratefully, Mom brings the same qualities to change that she has brought to her whole life, courage, resilience, and a positive attitude. This holds her in good stead as she contemplates moving away from the Santa Rosa Creek Commons, the community that has been the mainstay of her life for the past 16 years.
It is also clear that I want to be here in this last part of her life to enjoy her and to be part of her rich tapestry of friends. I have decided to make Santa Rosa my home base.
Many of you have supported in a myriad of ways through the joys and challenges of Awakening Truth and Shakti Vihara settling in Colorado Springs. You have seen and been part of renovating the vihara and our little community growing. You have heard me speak of my deep connection to the land and the ways that it has been a sturdy support. Yet, if I’m based here in Santa Rosa for the next while, it doesn’t make sense to also keep Shakti Vihara in Colorado Springs. It is sad, but the Awakening Truth Board of Directors advised that we would be wise to stop renting there. As Awakening Truth board considers pulling out of Colorado Springs, it has also been discussing ways to grow and make optimum use of our time in Santa Rosa. We are planning a community meeting so that these next steps have your input. The date and time will be forthcoming.
Gratefully, Ayya Dhammadhira has been at Shakti Vihara while I have been away. The community has grown on account of her support. Her plans are to stay through the Vassa summer retreat that ends mid October. I would love it if she stays on after October and continues with her creative ways of bringing together Dhamma, sustainable living and community building. It would bring great joy to my heart if the community in Colorado finds a way to continue to build on what has been created, recognizes the treasures that are present in what Ayya Dhammadhira and the resources the vihara offers and find a way to support her to stay on there. What happens will depend of course, upon what she together with the community, decide. In light of these changes and the Colorado community being invited into discussion about how things unfold, Ayya Dhammadhira will have a community meeting following the regular meditation and reflection on Saturday July 23 from 4-6 PM.
Mom doesn’t know yet when she moves. And so the date I return to Colorado is also uncertain. But it is clear that I will be arriving no later than mid August. It is also uncertain when I pack up my things at Shakti Vihara and return to California. If Ayya Dhammadhira and the community decide that they don’t want to continue to keep the vihara past October, then we will have a bigger process of sorting, packing, and moving.
Living further away from all of my dear friends in Colorado and not having easy access to the power of the Garden of the Gods and the wild expansive wilderness that is so near the vihara, is a big loss.
At this time, I feel so many blessings and so much is in transition. Joy and sorrow ebb and flow.
Susan, my house mate, welcomes me staying here until the end of the year after which she wants to get her home ready for putting it up for sale. So, rest assured, I have lodging until December.
To be in this peaceful, conducive home with Susan now feels like a heaven sent blessing. Her professional background lends knowledge and skill exactly where I need to support Mom right now. At this stage of her life, it is a gift to have time together. Yet, grief rides on the heals of joy. A few times my anticipatory grief of losing her knocked me sidewise. Weight and heaviness numbed every other feeling and filled me to the brim. I reached out to friends or went to Annandale State Park nearby. Slowly the grip of grief gave way to the pervasiveness of awareness. Shifting focus from all that is changing, I returned to spaciousness. This spaciousness is not time bound. It allows all the feelings to be there; holds me during this time of change. Pervasive awareness allows me to reconnect with the love that is underneath the loss. This love is not limited to time, space, particular power spots in the land, to close proximity to friends or Mom as I know her now. When I touch that, I trust all manner of things shall be well.