Monday, November 17, 2014

Women's Hermitage Retreat

Ece gifts Heart-rocks  

The first women’s retreat was held at the Clouds and Water Island Hermitage September 19th through the 21st, 2014. Wayfarers who stayed the full three days included Ece Yildirim, Valerie Grigg-Devis and  Maitri Sojourner.  Ece recently completed a four-year course of study of traditional Chinese medicine at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She is on her way to a three-month volunteer residency at a women’s clinic in Nepal and plans to open her own women’s clinic in New York. Ece served as our Tenzo and ran a wonderful kitchen! Valerie is a transportation planner with Oregon Department of Transportation from Corvallis, Oregon, and an ordained member of the Order of the Boundless Way. Valerie is deepening her practice and wants to do chaplaincy work. Maitri Sojourner is also ordained as a member of the Order, who lives in Olympia. Her practice includes sewing meditation cushions, shirts, and robes upon request.

Maitri presenting the Empty Cup

Ann Tjung, Buddhist chaplain at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, and newest member of the Order,  joined the group on Saturday, along with Johnnie Paradiso, who donated the land for the Hermitage. We all participated in a precept ceremony for Johnnie who was presented with books, a meditation cushion, mala beads, a heart rock from her beloved beach and a bell. These were offered, along with our good wishes, to help her along with developing her practice. On Sunday, Valerie and Maitri renewed their dedication to practice by reciting the Ten Grave Precepts together. Maitri continued her tradition of “humorous seriousness” by wearing the sock monkey hat Valerie had given her for her ordination a few years ago. They were joined by Jessica Morgan on Sunday. Maitri presented everyone with a small empty cup, as a reminder that we sometimes to need to empty ourselves out before we can fill ourselves up again and Ece presented all with heart shaped rocks.

Ece demonstrates Tai Chi

The weather was beautiful, and the group pulled the overgrowth of Canadian Thistle and continued defining the walking path around the perimeter of the property. Despite our efforts, a raccoon family visited our campsite and Valerie did valiant battle with a broom. She witnessed one raccoon carrying off a garbage bag of soiled paper towels draped over a seven-pound fire extinguisher, another one carrying an empty macaroon can under its arm like a football, and another one licking the contents of a non-dairy creamer packet! We moved Valerie into the hut with us, and can tell you that three people and all their “stuff” fits nicely in the sleeping hut Miles built. We took turns giving short dharma talks, and we had meaningful discussions about our practice and how we use it in our everyday lives. We watched beautiful sunsets each evening, sipping our hot tea.

Maitri Sojourner