2-22-15 No Sangha Tonight

photo courtesy of  joanna brelstaff

topsy turvey winter!

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all warm and enjoying this roller coaster ride of a winter!

Robert and Monica have written to say that their road and drive are icy and they don’t feel that folks could safely navigate tonight, so there will be no meeting of the Sangha.

The next gathering…will be next Sunday, March  1 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County on North Road in Peace Dale at 6 PM….weather permitting!

In the meantime, enjoy!

with much love and many hugs,
Joanne

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2-17-15 Sangha Update

photographer unknown

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘
When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse.
‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
George Eliot

Dear Friends,
I hope this finds you holding yourself and others with gentle hands and being real!
I apologize for the extra email this week, but some important information needs to be shared and a prayer request made.
We have received a very moving letter from Sr. Chan Khong about Thay’s continued progress. I have included her letter below. If you can help with the expenses, please do…for information on how to do this, please go to thichnhathanhfoundation.org and specify that your donation is for Thay’s medical expenses.
Also, please remember that this coming Sunday our gathering will be held at the home of the VanHorns. The meeting will begin at 6 PM with sitting and walking meditation…followed by a talk and a sharing of the Dharma.  Information and directions are below.

PRAYER REQUEST
Our dear Sangha sister, Linda Pietras has requested that we send prayers to her mother Helen, who’s health seems to be failing. Linda has shown her mother so much love and has been Helen’s primary caregiver for several years. Please hold Helen and Linda in your prayers and meditations. You can send a love note to Linda at l_pietras@hotmail.com

Also, there will be an OI/Aspirant gathering at the Bell Street Chapel this coming Saturday at 10:00AM. We will recite the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, share the Dharma and our practice during this Winter Retreat. This is open to anyone who is interested in deepening practice and understanding more about our Order. There will be a gathering of the Radiant Bell Sangha immediately before this meeting from 8-9:45. All are welcome to attend that as well.

Also please remember that there will be a Day of Mindfulness in Franklin, MA on Saturday, March 7 during which we will focus on Fear and Cultivating Fearlessness. I will include info below and you can also find information and registration forms at joannefriday.com
The annual Aldersgate Retreat is being organized by the RICommunity of Mindfulness Planning Team. It will take place May 15-19 and the focus will be Letting Go With Grace. Again there will be information below and at joannefriday.com

Our own Art Stein has written a book, Let There Be Light: Experiences of Inner Light and Enlightenment across the World’s Sacred Traditions (Congratulations, Art) and will be discussing it as part of the Cross Currents Program at URI on  Thursday , March 5, 2015 – 4 p.m. at URI’s Multicultural Center’s Hardge Forum.

Please remember that many talks of Thay’s are available to us…at tnhaudio.org and also on you tube….here is a very good one….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC8FBdWwejk
I have also included a delightful poem which Clare sent me this morning (thank you Clare) ..on shoveling snow with the Buddha….something we can all relate to!

Enjoy!
You may also be in a position to help…if so, there is a wonderful organization for volunteering…they are in need of shovelers… If you are able to help….
http://www.serverhodeisland.org
with much love and many hugs,
Joanne
Official Announcement about Thay’s Health (English only)
February 3, 2015 Bordeaux, France
Dear Beloved Community,
It’s been one month since the last report about our dear teacher’s health. We are happy and blessed to be able to share with you this progress report about the improving health of Thay. Thay has been out of the coma now for 5 weeks and since then he has been relocated to the rehabilitation center in the hospital. Since coming out of the coma, Thay has been able to keep his eyes open, is increasingly alert and able to engage throughout the day with the medical staff and attendants.
Having settled in at the rehab center, we are maintaining the 24/7 rotation of attendants to give Thay constant support. Over the past few months Thay has developed clear means of communicating with the attendants as well as physicians. Before aiding Thay in any tasks, the attendants always give thorough explanation and only proceed when Thay gives consent by nodding his head. At other times when Thay did not wish to do whatever has been requested of him, he would shake his head or he’d signaled with his left arm, of which he has regained much control. Overall, Thay has been quite cooperative even though sometimes the task to be done was uncomfortable for him.
The physical therapists have begun working with Thay to strengthen his muscles after weeks of immobility. One set of therapy includes exercises to strengthen his back so that Thay can sit upright on his own, keeping his neck and head aligned properly. With continued therapy, we are hopeful that Thay will be able to maintain a sitting position without any support.
Thay is also undergoing therapy to strengthen his legs so that he can stand on his own two feet. The 15-minutes sessions are physically challenging, but Thay is highly motivated to regain his capacities and has often continued with these exercises outside of schedule sessions. Thay is very determined to be able to stand again soon!
The physicians in Bordeaux are hopeful that as Thay is able to eat more and gain more weight, he will have the strength needed for the physical therapy. We are happy to share that last week, in addition to the profound care of the hospital’s doctors, Thay was also treated by a dear student of 20 years, who is a physician specializing in oriental acupressure and acupuncture. The treatments, focused on re-establishing Thay’s yin-yang balance and increasing the energy of his liver, pancreas, and kidneys, had enabled Thay to sleep better and have more energy.
The physical therapy augmented with acupuncture and acupressure treatment gave Thay greater energy and boosted his motivation. On one occasion, Thay was able to ‘cycle’ with his legs with the help of his attendants for an entire hour! The attendants can barely keep up with Thay’s continuous requests to practice his physical exercises. On another day, after acupressure and acupuncture treatment, with help Thay had proceeded to ‘cycle’ his legs 318 times!
It is truly elegant and beautiful to see the harmonious fusion of eastern and western medicine through the improvement of Thay’s condition. Particularly, the speech therapist had been helping Thay to strengthen the muscles relating to the pharynx and last week, Thay was able to swallow his pureed potatoes much better.
One of the recent happiest moments for Thay was when he was with the speech therapist and enjoyed a quarter cup of tea! When Thay was finally able to hold his cup of tea upright, we declared, “Now we shall have a tea meditation!” Thay agreed and raised his hand as if about to speak and motioned for one of the attendants to give the therapist a short orientation on how to drink tea mindfully. Then Thay and his speech therapist had a sip of tea. While the therapist observed that Thay was swallowing properly, Thay also looked into his tea and smiled to her. Then he put his hand on his heart and the attendant explained that Thay was encouraging us to bring our mind back to our body and to look more deeply into and really enjoy the taste of tea and people around us.
It has often been said that Thay’s life is his message. We feel incredibly grateful that despite the current circumstances, Thay continues to offer us his profound love, compassion and teaching.
The path of healing for Thay is still long, but we are certain that with the love and the support sent by all of his friends and disciples and with the energy of Avalokiteshvara, Thay will overcome the difficulties.
Thank you so much for all the beautiful emails, prayer services, letters, post cards and adorable drawings by children. Our community also appreciates deeply the donations sent to support us with expenses of housing and food for the monastics and attendants who are caring Thay.
With joined palms and a deep bow,
Bhiksuni Thích Nữ Chân Không
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Directions to and Parking for the Van Horn Home
Address:  24 Mallory Lane    Wakefield, RI  02879
Phone:  401-871-1838

From the North:
Take US 1-S to RI-138
Turn right onto RI-138; drive for about 3.5 miles
Turn left onto RI-108 S/Kingstown Rd.; drive for 2 miles. You will pass the SK police station, then later a pond, and the Pump House Restaurant on your right.
Take the next left onto Rodman Street.  (Street sign is hard to see; Dennis Moffit Painting is on the corner and the Peace Dale Mill is on the left.) You will pass the bike path and one stop sign.
Mallory Lane will be on your left.  Our house is the second on the left.
See below for parking.

From the South/West:
Take US-1/N past the Matunuck exits
Take the Pond St. exit. (right after an exit for Post Rd.)
Turn left onto Pond St.  Continue until Pond dead ends onto Main.
Turn right onto Main.  Drive a short distance

.
Turn left onto High St.  Drive past town hall.
In about 0.6 mi, turn left onto Allen.
At stop sign, turn right onto Rodman.  Continue past one stop sign.  Mallory Lane is on the right.  Our house is the second on the left

Parking:
Our street is narrow, so we ask that you not part on the street.  3-4 cars will fit in our driveway.  If there is  no space left in the driveway, you can park on Jennifer Dr.  Turn left back onto Rodman, and make a quick right onto Jennifer Dr.  Thank you!!!
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Invitation to Register for the Aldersgate Retreat
Dear friends,

The Rhode Island Community of Mindfulness is happy to announce that registration is open for the fifth annual Camp Aldersgate retreat:

Letting Go with Grace: Stopping, Breathing, and Looking Deeply
A five-day mindfulness retreat in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn
with Dharma teacher Joanne Friday
May 15-19, 2015
Camp Aldersgate, North Scituate, Rhode Island

Registration form downloadable here.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of the $25 early registration discount, which ends March 15.  Last year the retreat filled quickly and there was a waiting list, so do not hesitate to register as soon as you can. The registration form and flyer above (and attached) provides details about the retreat as well as a contact for more information. The flyer can also be found on JoanneFriday.com.
We hope you can join us this year!

Peace and metta,
The retreat planning team
(Jessica Albernaz, Jim Chapin , Stephen Conlon, Ellen Dessloch, Joanne Friday, Susan Glogovac, Gary Kendig, Karina Lutz, Mary Beth Meehan, Ann Moore, Kristen Morelli, Linda Pietras, Philip Smith, Liz Smylie, Wendy Warburton)

_____________________________________________________________________

DAY OF MINDFULNESS REGISTRATION

FEAR
Cultivating Fearlessness Practical Wisdom for Facing Life’s Challenges
Saturday, March 7, 2015
9:30 AM ~ 4:30
First Universalist Society of Franklin
262 Chestnut St. Franklin, MA
Suggested fee of $20 (teacher Dana not included)
No one turned away for inability to pay
Bring Brown Bag Lunch ~ drinks /snack provided Information: Susan Emmer Schmidt (781) 985-4911
First Universalist Society of Franklin 262 Chestnut St. Franklin, MA

REGISTRATION: By February 28th, 2015 with checks payable to Path of Peace Sangha Mail your registration to: Susan Emmer Schmidt, 7 1/2 King Philip Trail, Norfolk, MA 02056.
Enclosed payment of $ _________________________________ for _____________ person(s)
Name(s): _______________________________________________________________
Phone: __________________ Address: ___________________________________________________ Email: _______________________    ________
____________________________________________________________________________

FROM CLARE…
Shoveling Snow With Buddha

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

~ Billy Collins ~
(Picnic, Lightning)

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