Currently we are back in session for the second half of 2019 after our winter recess, beginning with a nine day retreat with Jill Shepherd. During our winter break we had the privilege of hosting a group of 15 Vietnamese nuns and laywomen who attended the Sakyadhita conference at the Fairmont in Leura (as well as 3 Tibetan nuns who needed a room for a night!). Language barriers saw lots of laughter and sign language as we sorted out food and accommodation needs, and as the conference drew to a close (which we attended also) we were graced by our guests with a very beautiful metta chant, complete with harmonies and a tinkling bell, as part of our regular evening weekly sit at BMIMC. The warmth and kindness of our guests were an inspiration, as was the conference overall.
Having just received our latest electricity bill were pretty thrilled to see our Jan-July power has been halved thanks to the solar installation earlier in the year. Thank you to everyone who donated to this project- it is well and truly starting to pay off. If you’re interested in seeing a usage and cost breakdown click here.
It has again been a very dry winter, the third in a row, so we are currently looking at rainwater harvesting for water for our gardens. We have a number of long disused septic tanks from before the centre was connected to the sewerage system, which we are looking at cleaning out and connecting to our guttering. In addition to these we are also looking at extra tanks for rainwater off the significant roof-space on Sasana House. We will happily receive donations towards the purchase of water tanks and the associated plumbing to help water our beautiful gardens, if this is a project dear to your heart.
Sometimes we receive donations specific to a particular part of the centre’s upkeep, for instance, and if you go down to the woods today (or at least the lower walking tracks) you will be in for a nice surprise – one of our dear long-term yogis very kindly donated a significant amount of camellias to create hedges for the walking tracks under the Radiata pines. Dan and Lochkey, our live-in volunteer at the time, put in many hours of work to re-level the walking tracks and plant the camellias for future yogis to enjoy. Thank you Lochkey for your hard work and dedication, Dan for your patience and Lewin for the gift of the camellias.
Our staffing situation also changed over the last few months – Bugs and I moved from being on-site managers to living in our house in Blackheath. Lochkey, who was our residential volunteer for six months finished up to sit retreat in South Australia and Western Australia, meanwhile Rebecca Mann became our onsite caretaker who is co-managing with Margie. We also have extra help with grounds maintenance from long time supporter Don Eliot, ongoing building work with Dan, and we have trained up a number of relief retreat managers who can step in when Rebecca and I are on leave or are having a day off. This model of sharing the load feels very sustainable and healthy, with a bustling staff-room (more tea!) as everyone checks in for the day and goes about their duties.
Lastly, some very encouraging news on the proposed Katoomba Airfield development – over 1500 submissions made and the Mayor is right behind us! You can read more about it here. There’s also a Katoomba Airfield Community Group page on Facebook.
We wish you well for the second half of 2019, and hopefully see you at the Centre soon as a volunteer or on retreat.