An early reminder of the annual Alton Retreat this Autumn. It will be from the 27th to the 29th October. Details to follow.
Some of you will already know that Irene is leaving Britain to return to Germany for good. Since her fathers death her mother needs more care so Irene and her husband Hugh are moving to be close to her. She will be popping back over to Reading over the next few months to finalise the move but to all intents and purposes she is leaving on the 3rd August.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Irene for all the dedication and hard work she has put into the Priory over the last twenty years. I have only been here a short time but the effects of her application are obvious and manifold.
May we all send her on her way with all our best wishes and thanks. In the Autumn, probably October, I will be hosting a farewell gathering for Irene here at the Priory. I will post details in good time so that those of you who would wish to come can organise your diaries.
For the second part of September I will be away visiting Shasta Abbey for the Conclave. This is the five yearly meeting where OBC rules are ratified. I will be flying out on Monday 11th September and returning Monday 2nd October. This will be my first visit tio Shasta and appreciate the chance to do so.
During this time I am hoping that the normal group meetings can continue in my absence. We will be organising this at the next Steering group. If you are interested and able to help with this I sure it will be appreciated. Upon my return and dependent on jet lag it may take a few days before I am up and running and properly around.
We have managed to book a spring retreat at Brownshill monastery for 2018. This will be from Thursday 12th April to Sunday 15th. The 4 day format proved popular this year so we will keep to this until it seems good to change. Rev. Master Saido from Telford Priory has kindly agreed to take part once more.
Here is the schedule for this weekends 3 day day drop in retreat I will be holding from Friday 21st to Sunday lunchtime 23rd. Please remember that the Group evening and Grpoupo morning will run as usual. Please join me on retreat if you can for a period that suits you. If you can’t join me in person then maybe you would like to sit with me at home.
6.00 am Meditation
6.35 Walking meditation
7.20 Dawn Drum/ Short Morning Service ( Sunday during Group morning as usual)
8.30 Working meditation
10.35 Walking meditation
3.05 Walking meditation
4.00 Exercise / break
6.00 Evening meal
7.30 Meditation x 2 + Vespers (Friday Group evening usual schedule)
There may be changes to this dependent on numbers here. (i.e. dharma discussion etc.)
Ends after Sunday Group morning
Here are some pictures of the ongoing work redecorating the meditation hall. Volunteers from the sangha worked hard and we got the painting done in 4 days. We went from brilliant white to sable and pale sable which has given the room a bright, airy yet warm feel. We have decluttered as well, moving chairs out of the side shrines and generally lessening the amount of things in the hall. I am now working on the shrines which hopefully will be done soon. I also hope to be able to put in a new backing to the altar. The frieze above the altar has been stripped back and a cloud shape has been cut out to give the Buddha more breathing space. I am going to add some minimal design to it aswell. When the budget allows the carpet will be replaced, possibly this Autumn. Thank you to all who have helped with this project. I will keep you updated on future additions.
May I take this opportunity to remind everyone that we will be undertaking the first stage of the zendo re – decoration this July. It will take place between the 10th – 16th and will entail painting the walls, ceiling and woodwork. Anybody who is able and wishes to help with this is very welcome. Just drop me a line to say when and for how long you can help so that I can plan a little bit, i.e. numbers etc. The usual group meetings will take place with us using the downstairs back room as a temporary zendo. Future changes may include the carpet, side shrines, and Founders shrine.
On Sunday June 25th Barney & Konstantina hosted the first, (hopefully), of this summers sangha socials. Held in their garden in which over a dozen members of the congregation and myself enjoyed a bar-b-q and bonfire in the afternoon. Konstantina had been busy baking and cooking which all added up to a wonderful feast. The weather held and everyone enjoyed a relaxing get together. I hope we can plan another social before the summer is out. Thank you for the lifts there and back.
On Thursday June 22nd I was delighted to perform the wedding blessing of Glenda and Paul Holder at the Priory. The couple have been married for a year and wanted it blessed in a Buddhist ceremony. The couple processed in to Vadana Ti – Sarana and this was followed by The Litany of the Great Compassionate One, both chosen by the bride and groom. Glenda is a long standing congregation member who I first met many years ago at Throssel. It was a pleasure to meet Paul for the first time. It was an intimate occassion attended by two others, Annie and Cliff. It was a wonderful day all round and we enjoyed our lunch in the garden with a fresh cooling breeze which was much appreciated, the forecast thunder storms and heavy rain failing to appear.
This years retreat at the Brownshill monastery was attended by nine lay guests and Rev. Saido from Telford Priory and Rev. Gareth. This was my first visit and it is an excellent setting for a contemplative retreat. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and for me also to meet new. We were well looked after and generally left to do our thing. The usual mix of sitting, ceremony and dharma was interspersed with outside walking meditation of up to 30 mins. An addition this year was to do the Renewal of Precepts ceremony in a version which Rev. Saido does at Telford. Before the ceremony he gave a talk covering aspects of the ceremony and it’s history.
Everyone seemed to appreciate the extra day. We are intending to book again this length of time for next year but hopefully revert to spring time if we can get a slot. It fell during June this year because they were already booked up. Most people managed to come on the Thursday but just a reminder that it’s fine to come on the Friday if that is what is manageable.