Opening the Priory to individuals
Since lockdown restrictions were eased on 4th July, the Priory has been open to individuals (or two people from the same household). We are taking care with safety, ensuring that social distancing is maintained and that good hygiene practices are in place. For anybody coming to the Priory, there is hand sanitiser available in the hallway, to be used when you first come in and if needed subsequently. Door handles and surfaces etc are wiped down with antiviral spray before and after visitors. In the bathroom and the kitchen, there are paper towels available to dry your hands. It is possible to maintain a two-metre social distance while at the Priory, but if you feel safer wearing a face-covering, it’s fine to do that. If you would like to bring along your own mug/cup, you’re welcome to do that too.
Individuals are welcome to come along to the Priory, to sit in the meditation room, or to have a cup of tea and a chat with me. The Priory is also able to offer introductory sessions to newcomers on an individual basis. If you would like to visit the Priory, just let me know and we’ll make it work. Also, if anyone would like to come along to the Priory to attend one of our events in person, rather than via Zoom, that is also fine, if you contact me in advance. If more than one person wishes to come to a particular event, I’ll decide who to offer the place to (based on factors such as whether they’re having problems with Zoom or else just who was least recently at the Priory). Obviously, please don’t consider coming along to the Priory if you have any symptoms that might be due to coronavirus.
We shall be flexible about these arrangements, as we see what works for people and also as we continue to follow government guidelines, which may change over time. It is important that people should feel safe coming to the Priory and also that we don’t do anything to contribute to coronavirus spreading.
Our Zoom meetings will be unaffected by the small-scale opening of the Priory. The Sangha seems to be flourishing in its online form, with all events being attended by considerably more people than were coming along to the Priory in person. Not only have we welcomed newcomers, but we have also been able to resume connections with people who had been part of our Sangha but moved away from Norwich, to places such as Chichester, Aberystwyth and Lichfield. I’m intending to continue offering a Zoom connection to all of our events, even when the Priory is able to welcome visitors as normal, whenever that may be. So, it may well be that our way of holding events at the Norwich Priory will be changed forever by this pandemic and we can continue to welcome an extended Sangha.
Details of our online events are shared through the Priory’s email group. Anyone who is familiar with our practice and would like join the meetings can contact me for more details.
We are grateful that the technology has enabled us to remain connected at this time of physically isolating from others. The photo below shows this interconnectedness in action – it’s the view from the Prior’s seat in the meditation room during an early morning meditation period, showing the laptop supporting a Zoom meeting for Sangha members joining the meditation and morning service.
For anybody who missed it, there is a gallery page showing photos that our Sangha shared of their home altars. This was a lovely initiative taken during the early part of the lockdown, as a way of bringing a sense of connection to our individual home-based practices.
In recent weeks, there hasn’t been the opportunity to leave donations in our Alms Bowl at the end of an event. So I am extremely grateful to everyone who has started to offer financial support to the Priory online and to those who have continued with their regular online donations (as well as for the cash donations that have been posted through the door of the Priory). This has enabled us to continue to cover our costs during the lockdown. The work of the Priory in offering the Dharma seems to be more needed and appreciated than ever just now. We depend entirely on donations for our ongoing existence and so any financial support that is offered is greatly appreciated. Thanks also to those people who have left food offerings for the Priory.
For anyone who would like to make a donation or set up a standing order, details of how to do so can be found on our Donations page. All donations are very gratefully received.
It has been inspiring to see the Sangha’s commitment to practice during this challenging time and it has been a privilege to be able to offer support to you and to train alongside you. I hope that I’ll be able to see some of you in person again over the next few weeks and months.
With best wishes and in gassho,