(This email was sent to the practicing sangha already - if you expressed your interest in participating in the April weekend retreat there's no need to let us know again - you are already on our list.)
For quite a long time you have patiently been waiting for in-person retreat updates.
We had made a beautiful plan for 2023. We wanted to re-open in spring, after the danger of frost, snow, power outages and frozen pipes had passed.
And we were excited about finally being able to share Furnace Mountain with all of you again, and to practice together after what feels like an eternity of only being able to meet on Zoom.
But, life is what happens while we are making different plans:
As some of you already know, Zen Master Dae Gak’s oldest daughter Gretchen suffered a severe stroke in January, and at only 49 years of age requires ongoing support.
Right now, we need to be very flexible around her needs. We will bring her to the mountain soon to take care of her, and as none of us has experience with such a situation we struggle around what might be required of us and how we can offer Zen retreats while also caring for her.
So, if you have been waiting, and if you checked the website - this is the reason why there weren't any dates posted for in-person retreats.
Our original plan was to start with three week-long retreats in April, May and June.
Given that we are total beginners at this new situation we changed plans and will start with offering a weekend retreat in April (Thursday 20th – Sunday 23rd) to see how we fare.
If this retreat goes well, we’ll add additional Zen retreats as originally planned:
If you wish to sit the April weekend retreat with us, in person, at Furnace Mountain Zen Center we ask that you email us at fmzconline(at)gmail.com.
(If you are from a different tradition, please briefly share about your practice experience.)
We will start a waiting list and will let you know by the end of March whether you are in for the April retreat. Spaces will be offered to students of the FMZC Maha-Sangha first and to those with an already established practice. We only have limited spaces, so please apply early!
Relevant retreat details will be posted to our website soon.
We understand that this makes planning difficult, especially for all of you who need to travel. If we manage, we’ll set the April retreat up as a hybrid version, so that you can participate from home.
Right now our attention is entirely elsewhere, and we appreciate your patience and compassionate support in this sad and challenging situation.
We are also asking for help before and during retreat – especially from those of you who are familiar with Zen practice and the retreat routine at FMZC:
Please reach out if you are willing to join us in April, before and during the retreat as a “co-retreat-wrangler” – as cooks in the kitchen, as helpers with cleaning, shopping, and in the permaculture garden, and for the ten thousand other things that create a good retreat experience for everyone.
As difficult as all this is - it's also an invitation: For us to come forward as one body with many arms and hands; Sangha in the truest sense.
I bow to you in gratitude for your commitment to our practice and to Furnace Mountain.
May all beings benefit!