Saturday, April 30, 2005

April 30th...Another rainy day!

It may have rained today, but we had a great turn out! Pete came out after getting an email from me (I sent some out this morning to let everyone know I was willing to work in the rain if they were...), Philip responded as well. Lisa and Ashly came hoping to build the platform, but were glad to work on sandblasting.

We cleared paint around the top edge of the throne, so when a lip is added to the platform (to prevent it from shifting with wind or weight) we don't prevent ourselves from being able to clear the paint. Pete had been out on Wednesday with Norbu, and was eager to get back to the sandblasting. Philip, Lisa and Ashly all had a chance to learn to work the sandpot. It is a critical part of the process, as it regulates the flow to the hose. Too much and sand is wasted, and the concrete pitted, too little, and nothing happens. We all got the technique down before long, so we could take turns working. Really cool. No one had to get worn out (though I'm not sure there won't be some sore muscles tomorrow...)

Inside there was activity at the temple today as well, Ann and Gretchen did a great job vacuuming and cleaning the entrance to the temple. I hope we didn't mess up their work too much when we left (after sandblasting work, you shed black sand for quite a while).

This week will be different. Monday we hope David Parker will join us again to finish the platform. Then we need to get done what we can before Khenpo Norgye comes. Khenpo is going to give us teachings and empowerments next weekend. If you're interested follow the link to KPC Maryland's website on this page for more information on what he's going to give.

As always, I'll end by inviting you to come join us. Come watch, come walk the land and see the Stupas in person (my Mom said she had no idea how big they are), or take some time out in the prayer room. All of it is open to anyone, no strings attached. The Stupa we're working on right now is easy to find, right off the parking lot. You can see it anytime, day or night. Even with tarps and platforms all around it, it still bestows endless blessings to any creature that encounters it. So please do stop by if you can. Otherwise, check us out here. We're keeping this blog to share it all with you!

It is my hope you will be inspired by what you see here. These are ordinary people, folks you could pass on the street and never think twice about them. Yet, they work diligently through rain, wind, sand, stinky paint chemicals, and precarious ropes and harness work, giving up days off and weekends, all to restore Stupas! They go through all this because they know the Stupas bring blessings and healing, peace and prosperity, to every being that encounters them. So please do come out, or check in here regularly, the blessings are immeasurable. If you want to give working on the Stupas a try we'll help you get the hang of it, if you'd rather watch, we'll try to entertain you. If you'd rather avoid us all together, there are plenty of Stupas in the Peace Park across the street, where you won't have to deal with us at all. : )

After opening prayers we get started. First thing is getting sand for the pot. Philip gets on it while Lisa and Ashly look on... Posted by Hello

Lisa and Ashly start filling the pot with sand, while I help Pete get a ladder up. Our goal for the day is to get the edge around the top of the throne cleaned of paint. David came up with the idea of putting a lip around the base of the platform, to prevent it from slipping, since we can't drive nails into the Stupa. That lip would prevent us from removing paint beneath it, so we're going to clear what we can of it today... Posted by Hello

Pete tries to figure out how to position the articulating ladder that David Parker left for us to use... Posted by Hello

We had a great turn out today, despite the rain! Philip has the wheelbarrel full of sand, while Lisa works the sandpot. Pete wanted to work the hose, and no one's fighting him for that job. : ) You can see my other dog (I have two) Spike under the awning. She didn't stay there long though, didn't like the noise... Posted by Hello

Pete has the hang of it now... Posted by Hello

Philip, who's been diligently trucking sand down to us, gets a chance to rest a while as we all watch Pete blast the paint off the Stupa... Posted by Hello

When Pete needs a break, Ashly tried on the hood. Her Mom, Lisa, asks her "how many fingers am I holding up..." Posted by Hello

Now that Lisa's got the hood on Ashly gets a chance to show her what it's like...I've had a turn at the sandblasting, and you can't see anything from inside there... Posted by Hello

Back to work... Posted by Hello

The crew hangs in there even through the rain. Everyone was so happy to get a chance to work on the Stupas, they didn't want to stop... Posted by Hello

Once we get the edge clear all the way around, Pete works on clearing the top step of the throne. Lisa and Ashly keep an eye on him and the sandpot... Posted by Hello

As we clean up, we go through our usual routine. Ashly wants a turn at the sandblasting hose (no sand now, just air) so we let her go for it. Unfortunately, the rain has caused the sand to stick to the surface of the Stupa. We can move a lot of it off with the blast of air, but the Stupa still looks dirty. Can't have that... Posted by Hello

In the end, we find a regular hose works best today. Ashly hangs in there through to the end, taking up the hose gladly, even though it leaks and she's getting pretty wet! Posted by Hello

Friday, April 29, 2005

April 29th...Professional assistance...

I wasn't on site today, so these photos are my first glimpse of what got done, just like you!

Don't get spoiled either, these photos were taken by Chris Bonebrake, a professional photographer who has volunteered his time today. He's planning to join the expedition to Mongolia this summer, to document that historic event!

If you'd like to see Konchog's blog on that project you can see it here:

We were also joined by David Parker, another professional. David has been in construction for many years, we knew that, but we had no idea how in depth his knowledge was. He's offered us guidance, plans, and tools to get a platform erected so we can complete the Stupa without having to pay for a boom lift rental (really expensive). The platform would also allow for more folks to join the fun!

The crew today also included Norbu, until he had to leave for work, Ashby, and Sandy Lee who helped on the ground. I was told it was difficult work (I can imagine so, how did they get those platforms up there?), but that the first corner is toughest.

I am deeply grateful for all those working so hard to support this project. It continues to amaze me how folks are setting aside their time, devoting their energy and effort, all in order to bring and end to suffering. We all know that is not a short term goal, we know we may never see the result of our efforts manifest (though we really are seeing it, even now, every day, growing slowly).

Please do come out and catch a glimpse of this! Here in America, in a world filled with material desires and a drive for money and power, a bunch of ordinary folks, from many different backgrounds are leaving the rat race behind, and pitching in to make a difference in the world. If you come walk our park (which is also an animal refuge), circumambulate our Stupas, or take some quiet time in our prayer room, you'll know we have made a difference. It may seem small, but a friend once gave me the analogy of darkness and light. In a dark room, the darkness fills every corner. One small candle flame, however, can push back that darkness without a fight, by it's very nature. May this activity fuel that flame...illuminating the path to lasting happiness for all beings without exception.

The logo from David's trailer... Posted by Hello

David Parker, a practitioner from the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick, has volunteered to help us build a platform to complete work on the Stupa. We knew he had experience at this, but we had no idea he was this professional! What a blessing his offering is! This is his trailer, which he used to tow supplies to the site, and bring his large collection of tools. He is working on the Frederick Center currently, but has offered us some of his time to get us going...Thanks David, we couldn't do it without you! Posted by Hello

Here we go! Another learning curve..... Posted by Hello

Sandy Lee joins the crew on the ground, while Norbu and David work up on the Stupa.... Posted by Hello

David, who is a professional at this, is sharing the benefit of his knowledge with us. We aren't experts at anything, but we're willing to do whatever it takes to get the Stupas done.... Posted by Hello

Norbu runs a rope around the Stupa to help keep the supports in place temporarily... Posted by Hello

David and Norbu getting the first two supports in place.... Posted by Hello

Norbu working with David's nail gun... Posted by Hello

David shows Norbu how how to put it all together, Norbu is thrilled to have power tools! Posted by Hello

Things are starting to take shape... Posted by Hello

We were told this is the hardest part, the first corner. We'll see how much progress we're able to make tomorrow (if any...rain is called for). We've planned to show up tomorrow, and we've worked in the rain before... Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

April 28th...Getting ready...

Today was a relatively short work day out at the Stupas. Much of the final set of upper steps was already done yesterday, pictures will be late but I'll post them. Norbu moved this week, and he's still unpacking. His computer hasn't made the transition yet. : )

Once we finished with the Stupa we collected some cedar boughs for a smoke offering ceremony. Actually done in time to attend I wanted to help get ready for it. We also worked on getting our statue filling gear out of the temple, our storage area is being dismantled and put to better use, so Norbu is taking it home with him. Statues are filled in a very similar way to Stupas, only a lot smaller.

Norbu took off early to start unpacking, and I stayed to do the puja with Hesper. Ani Rene, our regular chant leader (umset), is out of town this week, so Hesper is doing her best to keep the practice schedule going by herself.

Though we are practitioners, and engage in practice daily, none of this is required for you to come visit us! Everything we do, from the 24 hour a day prayer in the temple, to the daily practices and offering ceremonies, to the physical labor of the Stupa Project and all the other activities, like cutting grass, planting gardens, cleaning altars and sweeping temple floors, we do this all for anyone who is seeking peace. It was the specific intention of our teacher that the temple be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all the time, for anyone needing somewhere to find comfort and peace (even the coffee and tea station was her instruction). The Stupas are also always here, always open. We do this all to bring peace and comfort into the world, for all beings. So do join us! If you're shy, then come see the Stupas! We'll leave you alone if you prefer, or we'll take time to answer your questions if you like! It brings us all great joy when others come to take advantage of what we've worked so hard to offer to the world!

Here's how the Stupa looked at the start of the day...Pete, Charlie and Norbu did most of the work yesterday afternoon. There are some areas on the horizontal that still need to be done, so we're going to get it done so the platform can go up tomorrow! Posted by Hello