Dear Red Cedar Zen Friends,
We hope you are safe and well in this unprecedented time of pandemic and upheaval. In such times we are grateful for the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence and our interdependence with all beings. On a very personal level, we now see how deeply entwined we are.
Here in Bellingham, RCZC began 2020 with our usual practice schedule, but by mid-March, our expectations, like those worldwide, abruptly changed. We ceased gathering and traveling. We put on masks and learned to distance socially. With gratitude to tech-savvy members, we moved all our practice meetings from our Hall into a Zoom Room in cyberspace. Meeting digitally is not as rich as in person, but it has been infinitely better than not meeting—and our members at a distance can join us in zazen.
By late May, with no abatement in the pandemic, the Board and sangha considered whether we should renew our building lease in September. Best evidence about COVID-19 was that we couldn’t return to the Hall before the end of 2020, if then. Negotiations with the landlord yielded no rent reduction. The Board considered it poor financial stewardship to ask members to pay money for a building we could not use, so we decided not to renew.
This was a conscious step. Now in our 29th year of practice in Bellingham, we have matured as a sangha. We have two transmitted priests, one lay entrusted teacher, two novice priests, eight experienced shusos, and 24 Jukai members among our seventy-three practitioners. Trusting ourselves and embracing the spirit of the famous Zen koan, together, we stepped off the hundred-foot pole.
With the sangha’s full support, we held our annual June Samish sesshin online, with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and 80 participants. We conducted a Jukai ceremony for member Dianne Latona, a few weeks before, sadly, she passed away. Nomon Tim and our Tanto (head of practice) Shudo Chris are both offering classes this fall, and Nomon will facilitate an anti-racist curriculum, Awakening to Whiteness, early next year. In December we will hold a seven-day Zoom Rohatsu sesshin and in January 2021 begin a Zoom-based winter Practice Period, led by Nomon and incoming Shuso, Joden Bob Rose.
In September we vacate the physical space at Red Cedar dharma hall. We’ll continue our practice remotely and also meet online as a sangha to develop a new vision and mission. In the future we hope to purchase a facility that offers growth and long-term stability so we can more broadly offer Zen practice in our area.
Traditionally, this report invites you to make a donation to Red Cedar Zen to help us with special projects and unanticipated needs. Over the years, you have been generous, and if you are able to give again this year, we will deeply appreciate your support. Although homeless for a while, we will still have continuing expenses. Your gift of any amount in this interim period will help us stay the course as well as build for the future. We’d love for you to be a part of our growth as we move forward.DONATE ONLINE
Or send a check to: Red Cedar Zen Community, P.O. Box 5193, Bellingham, WA 98227. Please write “Annual Appeal” on the check. All donations are fully tax deductible and will be acknowledged by receipt.
Wishing you good health and safety, yours in the Dharma,
Red Cedar Board of Directors –
Bob Rose, President
Tuli Candela, Vice-President
Hannah Sullivan, Secretary
Bernadette Prinster, Treasurer
Mary Durbrow, Member-at-Large
Edie Norton, emerita Member
Nomon Tim Burnett, ex officio Member