A Letter from the Coordinator

Beloved Lama Community,

So much has changed for us all in these last few months. Not long ago, residents were deep in retreat for our winter intensives, wondering if the Community Center kitchen project would ever be totally completed, and eagerly awaiting a summer retreat season filled with new and exciting programs and new and familiar faces. – Yes, so much has changed for us all. My hope for you, dear friend, is that you are meeting these changes with an honesty of spirit, tenderness of heart, the means to tend deeply to your whole self, and the will to soothe the ails of others. We hope that your connection to Lama, however little or great, can buoy your heart and spirit amidst these trying times.

As you might expect, this summer will look unlike any summer in recent Lama memory. In a normal year, the summer retreat season is an integral part of life here on the mountain, not only as a primary source of income, but as a clear and direct channel for service, a value that is held dear to us all. Summer is also an opportunity for us all to share the experience of Lama –the land, meals, the Dome, sunsets, and heartfelt connection. We know that our love for this place and what it stands for is best expressed through sharing it.

For all of these reasons, it has been truly difficult to come to terms with closing for the summer, but we feel that it is the best course to ensure the health and well-being of all. We plan to use this “quiet” time to create a more beautiful and thriving Lama Foundation to share with you all once we can do so again safely.

While we residents continue to care for Lama, we are seeking creative ways to responsibly wield the privilege we have of living on the mountain. We have begun making donations to our local food bank, and have created a bulk foods delivery service for those here on the mountain. We are also exploring ways to stay connected to our extended Lama family with more online offerings like our already popular Zoom Shabbat services. A multi-day retreat filled with offerings from Lama beans around the world is also in the works.

Perhaps not unlike yourself, my fellow community members and I have been seeking solid ground to stand on amidst this pandemic. No surprise, it has not been at all forthcoming. What we have instead is a host of deep questions: What does intentional community look like during a pandemic? How do we respond not from fear, but with intention, responsibility and consideration? What deeper wisdom awaits us here? How do we listen for that wisdom amidst the din of doubt, uncertainty, and anxiety? What does our service look like now? – The fact that there are far more questions than answers seems to reflect how fertile this moment is. I would say it also invites us to seek for the Friend in the unknown. To be sure, it is time to get comfortable with not knowing.

In November, trustees, residents, and a handful of continuing members met with Ben Haggard to continue an ongoing conversation about Lama’s relevancy and evolution in the world. The pivotal moment of that three-day meeting was the generation of the following statement of direction for the Foundation: Preparing individuals and communities to respond consciously and creatively to profound disruptive change. I could scarcely think of a more appropriate way to categorize the moment we are in now.

This is what we are asking ourselves: What does Lama have to offer to help people meet this moment consciously and creatively? One answer (of many) to that question is that we hold firmly to each other–all of us who have been touched by this place, who have had our eyes opened, even just a little bit, to the radical possibility of another way of living. And while we hold to one another, we can reach out to others as well. We can share our spiritual practices and the burdens and blessings in our hearts. We can share what it is to listen to another and truly hear. We can share what it is to love a place so dearly that tears flow in the recalling of it. Even though Lama may be physically closed this summer, we can still share it. This is what we are setting out to do and we hope that you will join us.

With great love and a deep bow,

-Kestrel, Lama Foundation Coordinator