Today we had an open day at the Amida Mandala Temple. It was raining hard this morning, and although the weather eased off a little there have been grey skies all day.
This grey weather was brightened up by the laughter and smiles and good conversation of the people coming through the doors.
There was a slow but steady trickle of people throughout the day. There wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t talking to someone (although I was able to slip away for lunch).
Some old friends who hadn’t seen our space before dropped by, as well as some people we hadn’t met before. A few of them are interested in coming to a service, others just wanted to see what we are about.
This morning, while we were holding our open day, a few people from Malvern went up to visit Sanghamitra’s group in Birmingham, who were also meeting today.
They had a Pureland service and Dharma discussion, and it sounds like it went very well.
A lot of what people receive here is in the atmosphere, in the connections with each other and the kindly way people relate to each other (most of the time.) It was our community meal yesterday evening, we had a few gusts, people who have been volunteering for us, and the time flew by. These spaces outside the ritual of the dharma hall are just as important as the more formal time. It is where the love is expressed spontaneously.
It was very nice to know that Amida in the UK could host two events on the same day, within an hour’s drive of each other, and have them both be a success.
Tomorrow we have another garden volunteer day. There’s a little more tidying of trees to do and plenty of weeding and getting beds ready for plants to go in.
Work carries on in between volunteer days too: Jnanamati has been clearing the ivy from the coach house while he’s been stopping with us and it looks great, and Angie and Clare came over on Wednesday and pulled up armfuls of weeds, while Ron was putting our decking together.
The work days are not just another informal space for people to connect in they also provide opportunity for spiritual training. We learn to work with each other in a smooth (or smoothish) way, to notice what our compulsive patterns are (do we push ourselves to hard when we are less trusting, or retreat?), and to learn to give and take instructions.
Namo Amida Bu