Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Breathing Space

(This is the view from Rich & Bev's bedroom)
At the beginning of August we drove down to spend some time with Matt's aunt and uncle, and the experience was such a gift to us. Richard and Bev have lived at the Vajrapani Buddhist Retreat Center in Boulder Creek (kind of Santa Cruz Mountains, I guess) for a very long time. I think it's been about 30 odd years since they first began living there. In some way the place itself is like their child - they have lived to see it grow from just a vision to a place of community, retreat and teaching. We've never made it down there to visit, which seemed sort of silly since we live only an hour or so away, so we made it a priority to go see them during our vacation.

M and Great Aunt Bev have storytime
Ruby doing what she does best- snuggling
It is really a commitment to live where they do: after driving lots of winding roads you drive on a gravel road for a while. Then once you finally get there, it is a little hike up to their home (hence the amazing view that they wake up to every morning!) I was amazed that they hike up and down to their house every day when they head to work. I am still not quite sure how it happens when it is rainy or dark, but somehow they do it!

Matt and Rich talking
Rich showing M a prayer wheel. Inside are hundreds of prayers, so when you spin it, it is a physical action to represent these prayers being released, much like Tibetan prayer flags represent the prayers printed on the flags blowing in the wind and being sent out into the world.
The land they live on is quite beautiful and peaceful - we went for a couple of long walks to see the property and to enjoy the trees and trails. M loved feeling the moss on the trees, exploring the house that has been built on top of and out of an ancient gypsy bus, and looking out from the showers that are built to overlook the entire forest! Can you imagine taking a shower in a wooden shower with a huge open window (no one can see in at you because you are up high overlooking the scenery) that looks out over thousands of trees? A whole lot more beautiful than our dingy, soap scummy shower stall. Just saying.

It felt so removed from our urban neighborhood, and it was so interesting for us to hear about their experiences living on this land for so many years, as well as to see glimpses into their relationships and routines. Even though we hold some different practices or beliefs, I respect this incredible journey they have been on (and continue to walk.)

In our conversations and time there I was struck at the ways that Rich and Bev's spiritual practices as Tibetan Buddhists inform every aspect of their life: their free time, the location where they live, their vocations, their vacations, the use of their money, even the way they have built and decorated their home. The layout of their small house encourages meditation and study, it seems as if there are spiritual books on almost every surface and the walls are covered with photos and images that allow them to reflect. There is no question as you spend time in their space that their time, energy and lives are directed toward these spiritual practices. They both devote considerable time to retreat or meditation.

M goes for a ride
 Matt and I desire to live in the way of Jesus, and this day spent with his aunt and uncle made me think about our own spiritual practices as well. Are our lives marked by generosity, hospitality, kindness, study of Jesus' life, grace and love? I thought about how we would orient our lives and our home to reflect these practices. I left feeling like their choices are all very intentional, and hoping that there is integrity in my own choices, and an intentionality about how and why I do things.


  1. *That* is a view. I think you're right that intentionality and authenticity are key -- I wish we all lived such authentic and intentional lives as Matt's aunt and uncle.

    Awwww, I miss Santa Cruz! The landscape, the people, the vibe....

  2. could so go for some quietness in the santa cruz mountains...ahhh! sounds wonderful.


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