Camp Gampo Abbey

The weather these past two weeks has been incredible which everyone says is rather unusual. It’s been sunny, in the 70’s (F), cool breezes, few insects due to a late freeze in the spring, very little rain, brilliant blue sea, green trees, amazing sunsets every night and so many stars. This beautiful weather also coincided with a very busy time here. We had a program that was well attended, including by many of the monastics, and two others were away at another program. All this resulted in everyone working at least 10 days in a row if not 12. So they scheduled a 3 day weekend. Thursday night, the night before our 3 open days, we had a bonfire.

We had lots of extra wood that needed to be burned and all this scrap that was cleared out of the woods, really, it was an extension of our work. Les and Lewis, two brothers from Newfoundland, Meir, Nyana Bodhi and I (the facilities crew that week) were just being diligent about not letting the wood pile up.

But you all know what goes great with bonfires, marshmallows. There is a ‘discretionary’ eating policy after 1:30pm, where you can only eat the soup that has been made or something that you don’t chew. There’s no restriction on sugar and since marshmallows, when roasted, dissolve in your mouth, we were allowed to have marshmallows, and hot chocolate. It was the first time for many folks in the roasting marshmallow category so Lewis gave lessons and made custom sticks.

Ani Drolkar’s first roasted marshmallow

Friday comes, most people sleep in and take it easy. I get up and roast coffee, 5 batches. The smell generated a lot of interest so I scheduled a coffee tasting for the next morning. I worked for a few hours but then it was movie night! We watched the documentary Spellbound. It was funnier than I thought it would be.

Having one day to sleep in here is great, following that up with another day is like a holiday, adding yet another day and you feel like you’re getting away with something. Not only was there coffee tasting on Saturday, but there were guests from the Chicago Shambhala center so Dawa, one of the temporary ordinates made pizza and a huge salad from our garden. The rest of the day just included lots of wandering around and staring at the sea.

Sunday. Sunday had been planned for two weeks. The second day I was here I mentioned that I wished I could see the final Dark Knight movie in the theater but that, alas, it just wasn’t to be. Little did I know that I had company. It was set. There would be at least 4 of us going to the city to see Batman.

Going to see a movie in the theater is an all day event. It takes 3 hours to get to Sydney NS, then 3 hours for the movie, a couple hours for shopping at Home Depot (what? doesn’t everyone do that when the go to the city?) plus the drive back means that it has to be either pretty serious or you have to be very desperate to get out. This was pretty serious. The four of us got up early, packed a picnic lunch and headed out, Dawa, Tsultrim, Ani Drolkar and I.The rest of Sunday was spent watching sunset, moon set, and waiting until you could see ALL the stars. Everyone says it will get really hard to live here and I believe it. It just wasn’t this weekend.

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3 thoughts on “Camp Gampo Abbey

  1. I love that you and 3 nuns went to see Dark Knight together. I hope that everyone was staring.

    It looks so beautiful there. Thanks for the photos! It’s good to see that your corrupting influence with coffee and marshmallows is influencing the penitent in NS. No one is immune.

  2. I was worried that this experience might change you. I see I can rest easy. The question is what with marshmallows, coffee tastings and the Dark Knight Rising excursion, will Gampo Abbey survive you :))

  3. I want to be very, very clear that the marshmallow and Dark Knight movie excursion ideas were not mine. I was happy to go along of course, and I had a car which enabled the movie possible but both things were the idea of Ani Drolkar (she bought the marshmallows and made the hot chocolate) and Tsultrim. I just happen to fit right in.

    And Mom, don’t worry, these two years will definitely change me. But you’ll be happy with the changes.

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