August 2023 Newsletter

Wednesday, August 16, 2023 5:28 AM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

Red Cedar Zen - August 2023 News


Greeting from Nomon Tim

Dear Sangha,

I'm grateful that our regular newsletter has been reborn!

And I'm also grateful that we choose to let it go during the transition between Program Administrators.

One thing I've tried to learn over the years is that while it's so important to be deeply committed in the practice of Zen and the ways we support that practice, it's also important to to be flexible, including when to let go for a while!

One of my deepest hopes for us as a community is sustainability and that requires both of these qualities: deep commitment, steadiness, continuous practice on the one hand; and great flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances on the other.

So in a way the disappearance and later reappearance of our regular newsletter is in itself a wonderful model of this.

I want to thank several behind the scenes folks from then and now in making this newsletter possible: Bob Penny, Ryan Wentzel, Michael Kelberer, Desiree Webster, Amanda McLaurin, and I'm sure several others I'm not thinking of right now. There are so many willing hands and hearts behind everything that manifests at Red Cedar!

And just a note from my corner: I write this during my early morning "Tim time" during my annual July Sabbatical. This year's July is unique and wondrous as you've probably heard as Raizelah and I are getting married (tomorrow!!). By the time you read this perhaps we'll have had the pleasure of celebrating together at the sangha reception we're holding next week. I'm feeling deeply held and loved on so many levels. Letting that in is a wonderful practice for someone who's so accustomed to taking care of others first.

Of the two qualities I mentioned earlier: the steadiness and commitment and sometimes ceaseless effort in service is my usual go to. It's a great thing to practice relaxing and letting others serve and help Raizelah and I as family and friends gather to celebrate and support our marriage and to feel the incredible support of sangha. Amazing!

With love and a deep bow,

Nomon Tim


Throughout this newsletter you’ll find this lovely watercolor paintings from Desiree Webster depicting scenes from her recent stay at Tassajara.

Thank you Desiree for sharing these with us!



A New Study Group

with Desiree Webster and Chris Burkhart

We will be studying the Śūrangama Sūtra. If you’re interested in studying together, please join us on Zoom on the 2nd and 4th Fridays from 7-8 pm.

The text we’ll be using is The Sūrangama Sūtra/ with excerpts from the Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua. (From the Buddhist Text Translation Society c 2017, 2009)


Also!--for the Dogen study group--A new fascicle begins! Chapter 24--"Awesome Presence of Active Buddhas" Every Tuesday, 7-8 PM.


New Board Members

Please welcome our new board members: Barbara Noda, Mari Ritalahti, and Desiree Webster. Their photos and bios will be on our website shortly! Also, thank you to Valerie Davenport for her dedication and service as she ends her stint with the board. Sending good wishes.  Gassho!



Sangha Japan Trip 2024

It's happening! Our April, 2024, trip to Japan is on the website. Registration opens on September 1st.

Joan is a member of the Red Cedar Zen Community and previously practiced with the Olympia Zen Center. She received Jukai from Eido Francis Carney Roshi.

Joan is also the author of two other books: A Pilgrimage in Japan: the 33 Temples of Kannon, and Heaven and Earth are Flowers: Reflections on Ikebana and Buddhism.

She currently resides in Mt. Vernon, WA


Zen and Ikebana

By Joan D. Stamm

In 2020, I planned to spend the month of April researching a flower temple pilgrimage in Kyoto and Nara, Japan where the Buddhist abbots refer to flowers as “little Buddhas.” Instead of my Japan adventure, I spent the year exploring my own garden as the encroaching COVID-19 pandemic kept everyone homebound.

Sequestered like a hermit on a mountain on Orcas Island, I focused on my Buddhist studies, creating ikebana and writing a book that would eventually be called The Language of Flowers in the Time of COVID: Finding Solace in Zen, Nature and Ikebana. My Zen practice, coupled with my “flower practice,” led me deeper into Kado: The Way of Flowers, a path that encompasses impermanence, interdependence and the internalization of nature’s peacefulness as one surrenders to seasonal changes, the humble beauty of flowers and their eventual demise.

Again and again, my Zen practice and my flower practice restored my sanity as the many other challenges of 2020 unfolded: riots and demonstrations over racial injustice, unprecedented wildfires and hurricanes, days and days of suffocating smoke-filled air, and an attempted coup d’état at our nation’s capital. Through it all, the seasons continued to produce beauty and abundance as buds formed, blossomed, withered and died, only to be reborn again. Like the magical enso of our lives, nature presents birth and death in a myriad of dazzling forms.

The Language of Flowers in the Time of COVID, published and released in June of this year, tells something of the 2020 story that unfolded for me while researching flower lore, tending my garden, and practicing ikebana and Zen. The book includes thirteen black and white ikebana photos. Included here are two of those photos in color. You can see more on my website:


Red Cedar Zen Updates

Cedarwood Building update: We are eagerly looking forward to the design of the new building renovation starting next month. Our original architect made good headway with getting surveys done and building an electronic model of the building. Because of the regulatory intricacies of converting a commercial space into an “assembly” space, an architect more specialized in renovation codes, commercial properties, and navigating the Bellingham Planning Department was needed to avoid impossibly high renovation costs. Commercial architects typically have a 1 year backlog now, so we were grateful to be jumped up to a 6 month wait which is ending soon.

Great appreciation also goes to the volunteers who have been working on the building to keep our tenant happy and to set the stage for work to begin as soon as we have a city-approved permit on a design. Neal Engledow performs repairs regularly, Dave Lynch keeps the lawn mowed, and Bob Penny arranged upgrades needed immediately when we purchased the building. If you’re able to contribute a few hours, see the website for Saturday work parties being hosted this month by Tina Cummings and Mari Ritalahti.

Talus Latona/Design and Build Committee Chair

Sangha News

Tim and Raizelah were married on July 22nd and we had a wonderful picnic the next week to celebrate their marriage! A beautiful day on Lake Padden with food galore and a chance to have leisurely chats with many sangha folks!

*We welcome your submissions--news, announcements, photos, poetry and art!  Please send these to by the 15th of the month prior--thanks!


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