What have you noticed as you emerge from the world of lockdowns? I emerged blinking into the warm sunlight last month to our first GBC classes being held in person for over two years. As all the lovely beings stepped over the threshold of our new space in Berkeley St, I noticed a deep joy at being with people again. As we sat together in silence, I felt the sound of meditators breathing and the sensation of our collective stillness as a deeply nourishing pool. I also noticed my own anxiety that I may get Covid from this much contact with people…
I imagine that the same tension is being played out over and over again in many areas of life right now. Covid is not over and lockdowns are. What parts of our lives can we / do we pick up again? In the GBC we are being cautious. We are trying to live with Covid and build good systems for minimising its spread among us. Living with it also includes being patient when we get sick and plans have to be put on hold. Covid may be teaching us still, how to respect the frailty of the human body more.
The initial lockdown emergency being over, we are also counting the cost to the charity. We used up the rainy day repairs reserve completely. We had to make one of our team members redundant to begin to reduce our deficit. We have had sobering conversations about money and we are still very much committed to continuing to offer the Buddha’s dharma without charge to people who seek it. This makes me so glad; our principles are only effective when they are tested in the fire.
We didn’t sit on our hands during lockdown and wait for the conditions to blow over, we took time in the ways that were available to us to develop our new vision for our community or sangha as we call it. Our future, manifested in our vision statement, is about creating both a central calm, beautiful gathering space for Buddhist practice in Glasgow and a greater network of neighbourhood initiatives all over the city, according to our capacity and inspiration. We want to contribute to lively communities and to be a resource of contemplation and compassion for the whole city. At present we are working out how we will do that.
As part of our growing collective approaches, there are now two chairs for the GBC. Pasadini and myself were made co-chairs of the charity in a ritual at our recent AGM.
And as we emerge from lockdowns we are also taking in even more big changes in our small supported team. After a two month retreat, our women’s mitra convenor, Candrika, has decided she can put off the call of the wild no longer. She needs to attend more to her well being and practice by letting go of her responsibilities in the centre. As mitra convenor, she looked out for the spiritual growth and well being of women who were mitras in our community. We wish her much contentment and happiness with being liberated from diary demands.
So we have not dodged any of the challenges that Covid has presented us at the GBC, though some of them were very painful. I imagine you will be facing your own counting of the cost, your own opportunities to do things differently in your life. It's a huge turning point for us all and I suspect Covid is not finished with us yet.