International Women's Day 2021: ShraddhavaniOn Thu, 11 March, 2021 - 08:37
I was ordained in 2018 at Akashavana, Spain. I live alone in a small apartment in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is on the East Coast of the US about 50 miles north of Boston. I’m retired from paying work but for the past few years have been the manager of the Portsmouth Buddhist Center and part of the teaching team there. I also have family living nearby, including a seven-year-old granddaughter. We formed a family “pod” in December, so I get to spend time with her and her parents a couple of times a week.
Today, as I write this, our country is moving past a half million official deaths from Covid 19. I have suffered very little in practical terms from pandemic restrictions, but watching it all unfold has been heartbreaking in so many ways. At the same time, living through our national political drama and our reckoning with systemic racism amidst the resurgence of white supremacy and nativist movements has been intense, to say the least. On the personal front, I spent much of the year talking regularly to my sister, who was in a deep depression following the death of her husband in 2019. The isolation imposed on her by the pandemic definitely took its toll. She collapsed and died alone in her apartment in late October.
The focus of my Dharma life has become to face mindfully all that arises within me in response to these events. Meditation is the main container for that, but the greater solitude of socially-distanced life has also been helpful. These last few winter months have been an especially difficult time, as I ventured into some of the dark corners of my – and my sister’s – childhood conditioning. During that time, it has been challenging to give time and energy to the sangha when I felt depleted of generosity, and challenging to show up authentically without letting the darkness inside me dominate my interactions.
But challenges are also opportunities for transformation. I am, thankfully, beginning to feel my internal winter loosening its grip and find my desire to share the Dharma renewed and clarified by the painful work of the past year. As my energy returns, I also aspire to be part of the larger movement for transformation that is happening, and must happen, in our society.
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