In July, I attended a 10-day teaching on the Madyamakvatara with Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jampa in the Washington, DC area hosted by our center, Guhyasamaja Center, in Fairfax, Virginia.
In August 2017, I took a break from my teaching schedule to attend the month-long Light of the Path Retreat with Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche outside Asheville, North Carolina. It was the fifth time I had been able to join this wonderful experience and Kadampa Center did another fantastic job organizing. A nun friend of mine, Ven. Tenzin Kunphen, the spiritual program coordinator at Tushita Dharamsala, flew in from visiting her family in Germany. She spent a couple of days with me in Philadelphia (being tourists!) before we embarked on our road trip to North Carolina (while again being tourists as we passed Washington, DC). It was great to spend some time with another nun and good friend.
The retreat had more than 400 people passing through over the course of a month and was obviously sublime with Rinpoche there. I was able to help out leading some meditations and rituals. We were also treated to a nearly full solar eclipse, Rinpoche’s blessed balloon release, amazing teachings, a great chance to reconnect with friends from around the world, and the tail end of a major hurricane.
In September, I attended my nephew Ben’s wedding to the lovely Jessica in a hayfield in the Catskills of New York. The whole family was in from countries far and wide and we had a splendid time including some outings and a healthcare march with my sister. My nephew, Alec, from England, moved in with me for several months and we enjoyed some nice outings.
In October I did some local teachings in the Philadelphia area and returned periodically to New York for Shantideva Center. I also led a training for psychologists at a 400-person outpatient substance abuse center run by Jefferson University’s Department of Psychiatry in Philadelphia.
In mid-October, I returned to Vajrapani Institute for a Mahamudra retreat with Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jampa whom I had last seen in Washington, DC in early July. It was a glorious season in the redwoods and the retreat was well attended with many longtime friends there. It was peak fire season, though, in California and there were raging fires up north in the Santa Rosa area. So when I landed in San Francisco for the retreat, at first I thought I was greeted by fog as I got out of the airport only to realize the air was filled with smoke. During the retreat at Vajrapani, a new fire started a couple of mountain ridges away and the retreat had to close and we had to leave. So as disappointing as that was, we were kindly taken in by sister center, Land of Medicine Buddha, where some of us were able to meet and conclude the retreat in a more conducive manner. It was a quick trip for me as the year had been very busy, but due to the shortened retreat, I was able to connect with some good friends.
The rest of the year took me to a dear friend’s daughter’s wedding in Philadelphia, a weekend retreat in November for Shantideva Center, some Skype teachings for Shantideva and students of Namdrol Ling Study Group in Miami Beach, a presentation for a local synagogue, a snowy day leading a mindfulness workshop at a local yoga center, and some other local programs. I also began a Meditation Facilitators Training at the request of Shantideva Center with a wonderful group of people. In early December, I returned to Vermont via a beautiful train journey to attend the ordination in the United Church of Christ of dear friend, Elisa Lucozzi. It was lovely seeing friends and celebrating with Elisa.
The year ended with a lovely holiday party hosted by Shantideva Center and a family Chanukah party I hosted at home complete with latkes and candles. I had a splendid time enjoying all the light offerings at home and in New York as I had not been around for a long time during the holiday season. Oh Ah Hung!