June 08, 2007

Ice Cream Day

Yesterday was wind day. Today is ice cream day. Tomorrow is tent day.

Yesterday the staff woke from a mostly sleepless night to a day of howling cold winds and hectic work. Some had been up until four in the morning trying, in vain, to secure the tents. Most of the rest had not slept much anyway due to the wind. A brave few had even spent the nights in the tents, though most had sought safer housing. During breakfast an all-call came over the radio to save the main shrine tent. The walls had to be taken down, the outside posts retied and the ropes tightened to prevent further ripping of the roof or possible collapse. After breakfast a damage report meeting was held, and plans were formulated while we waited for the wind to die down. After lunch, crews were assembled, split up, and sent out to begin repairing the damage. I helped draw damage maps between overseeing the contractors up from Fort Collins to work in the Rigden Lodge. Late in the afternoon I finally got to confirm that my own tent was still standing with only a ripped awning to show for the bad night. Everyone went to bed early that night, most of us heading for our tents before dark.

Today I got to go with Sue on a stupa tour (so I can learn how to give them) and I got to be the eyes for a blind man. I got to sit in the sunshine during lunch and discuss how to reconcile the Christian idea of a soul with the Buddhist ideas of non-self and reincarnation. After lunch I got to share my ice cream sandwich with Roger’s dog, a thirteen year old border collie who is going to live up here with him for the summer (dogs are generally a no-no and require special permission). To me dogs are the original Dorje Kasung, the original protectors.

Tomorrow the entire staff is to gather at the main shrine tent at ten o’clock to take it down. It takes sixty people to raise and lower this tent. Even looking at it from outside cannot convey the size of it. Only when you are inside do you realize this tent could probably hold five hundred people. The four main masts are larger around than most tree trunks, certainly bigger than telephone poles, and the eight secondary masts are almost as big. We are going to lower it so they can repair the tear in the roof which happened in the wind storm. Then it has to go back up by noon on Wednesday, in time for Warrior Assembly. Many of the side poles must be repaired where they are bent or broken and the ropes which secure the sides must be rerun where they snapped. The shrine must be rebuilt, the lights and sound system restrung, and the cushions returned.

Everything changes.

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