This last May, I had the opportunity to stay at the Buddhist nuns' community close to Perth , Ontario. After landing at the Ottawa airport, I was greeted by a cheerful Anagarik? named Acal? . Accompanying her was a visiting American 8 precepts nun by the name of Khemanand? who drove us to the Hermitage which is located 1.5 hours southwest of Ottawa in rural Lanark county.
The hermitage is home to the Canadian Bhikkhuni Sangha. At present, there are three resident monastics and, at the time of my visit, there were two visiting nuns, a 10- precept nun from Germany and an 8-precept nun from the United States.
Life at the Hermitage is both quiet and busy. The day started and ended with meditation in the newly built meditation hall. This was followed by light chores and breakfast. Meal time is an occasion for the community to get together, chant and share some Dhamma reading which is offered by Ayy? Medh?nand? for our contemplation, especially in the mornings. It is also the time when the activities of the day are planned.
Among other monastery works in which I participated, I had the chance to volunteer for the "mulching crew", setting down a layer of mulch around the nuns' meditation cabins. As I worked alongside the monastics, I came to appreciate the simplicity of their lifestyle in both its beauty and challenges. I remember the unstartled snowshoe hare who kept grazing alone in the meadow as I came by with a wheelbarrow.
After lunch and clean-up, there is a period of quiet time. I could go for a walk on the rural lanes or in the monastery woodlands, sit on the front porch reading or watching
the hummingbirds flying back and forth to the nectar feeder; or simply keeping Belle, the monastery cat, company.
The friendliness of the monastic community extends to all visitors, from the children of the lawn-mower repairman to supporters who come to offer food and help out, as well as to laypeople and monastics who are in need of an understanding ear to lighten their difficulties. All are embraced with compassion and gratitude, a gift that lingers in one's heart and mind long past the visit.
To find out more about Sati Saraniya hermitage and their work, please visit : satisaraniya.ca
Top photo, From right to left : Anag?rik? Acal?, S?maneri Ahims?, Ayy? Medh?nand? (resident monastics); Sayalay Kusal?nand? and Sayalay Khem?nand? ( visiting monastics)