Throughout the last year, Mountain Cloud teachers, staff, members and friends have worked diligently to expand our dharma reach towards a new online space. The Virtual Zendo has been alive and well for a little over a year now, and for the better part of that time members local to Santa Fe and those from around the country and world have been able to join together in the same space, bringing many new faces and opportunities to our sangha. As we expand in these new and exciting ways, we continue to maintain our commitment to the physical campus, and over the last year the work of dedicated members and visiting residents has brought new life to our land and facilities.
We have seen a number of visiting residents come and go in the last year, with the resident program adapting to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. After quarantining at the center, residents, guided by our caretaker Dan Martin, have established various routines that adapted as the group of residents evolved. Throughout the year, visiting residents have participated each morning in samu. This work practice ranges from mindful cleaning to flower arranging. A few members of the local sangha have also made trips to the center, helping with projects that include building new furniture for the cabins, creating extensive new shelving for the kitchen and re-staining of the gazebo. This thoughtful practice has brought new beauty and functionality to our facilities that we are sure members and visitors will thoroughly enjoy when the time comes.
Moving toward the main building and zendo, there have been several updates around and within the building itself. At the front door, there is a new shoe rack which has been built to last. The entry area flooring has been painted and the zendo’s earthen floor has been restored and refinished. Several of the trails leading towards the center have also seen some maintenance and upgrade, as foliage has been cleared in several areas.
Further into the property, maintenance has been performed on many of the trails near the center, with several new benches added in high traffic areas and many trails cleared of brush. Several new areas have been added to the trails, including a small sitting area and a new rock garden. Last summer, when visiting residents built this rock garden, they placed rocks in places that felt right, raking traditional Japanese Zen patterns into the sand around the space, often leaving the rake out for others to participate as they wish.
In addition to these projects, there have been many changes to the landscape at Mountain Cloud, starting at the driveway. In the last year, residents have performed extensive repair throughout the property, improving drainage in several areas and correcting places which were affected by severe erosion. This reshaping of the land works to provide support to native plants and grasses. As we reinvest in our land, we hope to cultivate these native species and allow them space to grow.
This image shows the driveway entrance to the Zen center property. On the left, burlap has been laid over multiple layers of logs, which will overtime decompose, providing new support to the previously eroded land. This will protect the root system of the tree shown on the far left, which had previously been exposed above ground. This is in addition to some filling that was done next to the driveway, correcting the previously mentioned drainage issue, as well as similar restoration efforts taking place on other areas of the property.
As we work towards re-opening our land and facilities, Mountain Cloud has avoided dormancy thanks to the dedicated work of many visiting residents and members. The improvements brought to the center, ranging from new furnishings to landscape changes will bring new life to our quiet center, peacefully greeting members as they begin to find their way back over the next year.
Buddha garden (above) and below, furnishing improvements to a cabin.
Text and images by Katie Rader, MCZC Administrative Assistant. Katie spent a morning with our caretaker Dan and the residents, taking photos and learning about the many projects that have improved our facility during our year of closure. Thank you Katie!