“After a year in retreat, some of us thought that the retreatants might be overwhelmed to be greeted by a crowd of visitors,” KCC’s president Kathleen Benz reflected. “What I witnessed was that, actually, they were just so present and welcoming. They expressed so much gratitude to the community near and far, the staff, the teachers, and even the trees and birds.”
It has been an interesting and special year not just for retreatants, but for their families as well. “My look back on this past year is really quite positive,” said Michael Hilsen, husband of retreatant Adele Hilsen. “I faced some medical challenges early on. When that happened, it felt positive to support Adele and encourage her to continue on.” Aside from the challenges, Michael said, “the year was really an opportunity to have my direction and goals and exploration as well.” Indeed he traveled to places like Yellowstone and Bordeaux, France, saw many family members and hosted his daughter and her boyfriend at his house for an
extended visit. In all of his busyness, he says he often thought of Adele and pictured her in her environment. “I told her I’d think of her every time I saw the moon. There were many nights when I looked up and did just that.”
Retreatant Kay Hartsock’s husband, Don, said that upon leaving retreat, he imagines she will be so happy to reconnect with people. “She's a pretty social person and she is probably going to want to go see her mom and her kids. Kay and our daughter used to talk every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts calling people immediately!”
Now retreatants will be undergoing a transition period as they begin their lives and reengage with the world outside the cloister, hopefully sharing some of the positive energy generated from this past year of practice.
Coming Up at SCOL
The end of the One Year Retreat means that the facilities at Ser Chö Ösel Ling are open again. There are opportunities for personal retreat in the spring and again in the winter—from May 3-31 and from January 17-February 14—as well as the Annual North American Mahamudra Seminar and a variety of short retreats, all of which are listed at www.kcc.org/retreat
SCOL will also be gearing up for what is to be a huge milestone—the first Three Year Retreat, scheduled to begin in spring of 2015. There is still another big push that must happen in preparation for this retreat.
“The last building essential to the support of long retreats at SCOL is a staff residence building. It is urgent that construction begins this summer in order to have the building ready as the Three Year Retreat begins in March 2015. KCC as a sangha is debt averse, so we want to have sufficient gifts or pledges in hand to cover the cost of $400,000. After raising $3.1 million, KCC is only $221,000 away from closing this thirteen
year effort,” states Barbara Bell, KCC’s volunteer development coordinator. “‘Raise the Roof for KCC,’ a fundraising event scheduled for June 13th, will give us a great opportunity to meet our goal of breaking ground on schedule this summer.”
The three apartments, common room, office and shrine room of the Staff Residence will be built for the long haul. “The design provides energy efficiency and will be low maintenance,” says Galen Doucette, SCOL’s Rural Operations Manager. Supporting long retreats is demanding work in an isolated environment—good reasons why those who carry the responsibility need privacy and a pleasant home when they are off duty.
KCC is also continuing to recruit for remaining openings in the Three Year Retreat. Please visit www.kcc.org for more details.
Join us the evening of June 13 to help celebrate Lama Michael Conklin’s 70th birthday and complete fund raising for KCC’s Ser Chö Ösel Ling long retreat center. Click here to learn more and RSVP or visit http://www.kcc.org/raisetheroof.