Dear Bloom of the Present Sangha and Friends,

I have been reflecting on how, over recent years, BOTP has hosted a joyous annual Sangha Celebration during the holiday season. We, of course, are unable to gather now as we all wait out the pandemic. But I do look forward to the possibility of meeting in-person in 2021. Perhaps, as soon as it is safe and feasible, we will have a “I survived COVID!” event!

This Sunday, Dec. 6, we will be having our monthly virtual gathering. I will be leading the meditation and giving a short talk, 9:30 – 10:45am PT. This will be my first time teaching with BOTP since the wildfire; I truly look forward to seeing many of your smiling faces!

It has been 3 1/2 months since the devastating fires. Chris and I continue to find our bearings. We are working on the slow process of insurance recovery. Just this week, we moved from our location on Scriver Street to a small apartment on Pine Street in Santa Cruz. This new space is a bit larger and we will be able to settle in more comfortably for the next few months as we sort out our next steps. We are in short walking distance from Whole Foods, the Buttery and Shopper’s Corner; that’s a new experience for me!

If you would like to reach us through mail, we are using our PO box in Ben Lomond as our “permanent” address for now: P.O. Box 395, Ben Lomond, CA 95005.

Everyone has been on my mind and in my heart. This simply has been a hard, confounding year for everybody. Many people, of course, ask about how I am doing. There is no simple answer to that. We are adapting to being displaced but it continues to be challenging to not have a space that feels like our own. We currently do not want to accumulate more things other than the basics of what we need (and we don’t need a lot.) We are getting more accustomed to the uncertainty of our situation but it is still quite a strain. At the same time, I have support from sangha, friends, family, the Dharma and the awe-inspiring wonder of the natural world. I am deeply grateful for all of it.

A special deep bow and thank you to all of you for your well-wishes and donations. Your generosity of spirit has nourished us on so many levels.

May the new year bring us continued insight, an even bigger capacity to be with what challenges us and many moments of great beauty and love.
Much metta,

Dear BOTP Sangha,

This is the time of year when, usually, we would be gathering for a holiday potluck, Carla’s famous raffle and a little bit of dancing fun, a time to visit with old and new friends, to share blessed food and express our gratitude for the gift of the Dharma and the Sangha.

But here we are, still unable to gather in person and still dealing with the incredible challenges our country is facing. However, we have also learned a lot through these past months. We’ve discovered that we could still connect virtually in many meaningful ways and that we could receive precious teachings from many corners of the world. In a way our meaning of sangha has greatly expanded beyond our small borders.

And in the midst of all this uncertainty, we were able to witness how generosity can still thrive. Thank you so much to all of you who contributed so generously to the great success of our fundraising for Carla and Chris. Your dedication to our teacher is such a gift of the heart.

There is a new year ahead of us. We still don’t know how it will unfold, for each one of us, for Carla, for BOTP and for the world community at large. But we do know that our connection as a sangha is alive and well. Throughout the Holidays, may we be sustained by this sense of belonging as a place of refuge at any time.

With Metta and Gratitude,
Isabelle Rosenlund, Chair 
The Guiding Circle (Holly Thomas, Laura Marini and JoAnn King)