Dear Sangha Friends,
We want to thank you for your continued support throughout Our Journey Home Campaign and now into our Search for a New Home. This Journey is centered on our three treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. It has always been about how our Red Cedar Zen practice can serve our greater community. A building is a means to that end.
The process has not unfolded as we initially expected. We set out with the intention that money raised would be sufficient to purchase a building that we could remodel and occupy. Unfortunately, during the past two years, the Bellingham real estate market has become, like many small cities, quite attractive. Numerous outside investors are making full price and above, cash offers for unseen properties. In these circumstances, our money simply won’t go as far as we had envisioned. But as our teachings show, expectations should be held lightly and to embrace the opportunities that arise.
In our search for a future zendo, we investigated multiple properties and found an ideal commercial building that meets most of our search criteria, 3 blocks from the Mt. Baker Theatre. It is in excellent condition, well outfitted, and used as healing arts treatment space. It is available to purchase and would be a prudent and wise investment in this challenging market.
However, to be a successful buyer, we must offer a multi-year lease to the current owner/tenant. With a substantial down payment from our successful campaign, the monthly lease payments more than cover our projected mortgage. Investing in this building now provides us with a safe place for our sangha treasure and allows that treasure to grow while providing great stability to respond to future opportunities.
This will be a temporary holding space so that we can calmly take the time to find our future home while building equity with the money all of you have so generously offered. We can take deep breaths and not feel pressured or rushed. When we do find the proper home for Red Cedar sangha, we will be able to sell this building, if we choose, and purchase a new space that will fit our growing sangha's needs.
We are still looking for our home and will continue that search. There are many opportunities your Board of Directors’ Special Committee on Real Estate (SCORE) can see on the horizon. In the interim, we will meet at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF) and be able practice, in person, as a community, sitting together after two years of almost constant virtual practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in his commentary on the Diamond Sutra (p.68) that establishing a “serene and beautiful Buddha field” is done in the “spirit of formlessness.” His cautionary words ring true: “Do not allow yourself to be burnt out in the process of setting up a practice center.”
We want to thank you all for your continued support and patience as we join together to take our practice from our cushions into our lives and into our community. We deeply appreciate each and every one of you and your heartfelt generosity. You are what makes Red Cedar Zen a living sanctuary.
We will have an all-sangha conversation about the next steps on our path for a permanent zendo home on Thursday, March 17 at 7 pm. Please feel free to call me or other members of the SCORE committee (Mary Durbrow, Nomon Tim Burnett or Richard Eggemeyer) if you have questions, concerns, or other issues we should consider.
On behalf of the SCORE Committee
Bob Rose, Board President