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Benefit at One Drop Monastery will help with disaster relief

This home in Minami Sanriku in Miyagi, Japan was destroyed after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March. A fundraiser for disaster relief will be held Saturday, Oct. 1 at Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery in Freeland. - Photo courtesy of Michiko Struthers
This home in Minami Sanriku in Miyagi, Japan was destroyed after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March. A fundraiser for disaster relief will be held Saturday, Oct. 1 at Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery in Freeland.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Michiko Struthers

It is being called the worst disaster ever recorded in the history of Japan.

The Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11 with a magnitude of 9.0. As of Aug. 8, 15,683 people were recorded as dead and 4,830 people are still missing. About 150,000 people are forced to live in evacuation shelters or temporary housing and it’s estimated that it may take two years to provide temporary housing to all evacuees.

Clinton resident Michiko Struthers went to Japan with her teenage son, Tristan, to help. On their return, Struthers put together a presentation about what is being done and what still needs to be done to help the relief efforts. She will present her slideshow and story in the third Whidbey Japan Benefit at noon Saturday, Oct. 1 at Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery in Freeland.

Organizers of the benefit, Rumi Keast and Linda Good, say the previous benefits raised $11,000 in the Whidbey Island community to date. Struthers, an accountant, has been volunteering with the RQ Citizens Disaster Relief Network Japan, the nonprofit to which all funds raised so far were donated. This third benefit is made possible through the sponsorship of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and its nonprofit status.

Keast said the folks involved with the benefits for Japan are simply a group of friends who pledged to give longterm support to Japan and its recovery after the earthquake and tsunami hit. She is a member of the Sound Singers, a Mukilteo-based Japanese mixed choir which will sing at the event in the “Gift of Deep Peace” concert. Other entertainers in the concert will include Good and Talia Toni Marcus, Dorothy Mikkel of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and the youth choir of Whidbey Island Academy. Assistant abbot of the monastery Dairin Zenji will guide a session of the easy way to Zazen (sitting meditation) for beginners following the concert.

The day will begin with a vegetarian potluck and finish with a hike around the lake at the monastery.

Good said the presentation by Struthers is well-prepared and includes many photographs.

“People who have donated at the past two events will learn how their donations have been utilized,” Good added.

“This is an outreaching event for not only the Japanese earthquake survivors, but for Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery, a Whidbey hidden gem,” said Rumi Keast.

“It has made great efforts in creating authentic Japan with Wabi Sabi culture,” she added. “‘Wabi Sabi’ refers to rustic elegance, quiet taste, refined beauty and the belief that objects gain value through use and age, something unpretentious and connected to nature.”

The Tahoma Zen Monastery, which recently installed a new abbot, Shodo Harada Roshi, cultivates the practice of mindfulness in life and work.

The monastery, which sits on a secluded wooded acreage among its housing and community buildings, maintains a daily schedule of morning and evening meditation, weekend retreats once a month and intensive meditation training twice a year. Members support the local community by providing respite retreats for caregivers and the operation of a home for people who are dying.

Keast said she feels that there are people here on Whidbey Island, such as those who practice the teachings of mindfulness and peace at the monastery, who have a great sympathy for what happened to Japan. The monastery seems the perfect place to hold such a benefit, she noted.

“And we have also been grateful for the generosity and kindness the supporting NPOs extended to us,” she said, referring to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and the RQ Citizen Disaster Relief Network Japan, to which all the funds raised have been sent.

“Join us for a time of experiencing serenity and good energy at Tahoma,” Good said. “If you have not visited there, it will become a pleasant discovery for you.”

Admission is by donation and a reservation is requested. The space is limited; a ticket number will be issued to each participant. To get a reservation, email whidbeyjapanbenefit@gmail.com or call 341-1817. Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery is at 6499 Wahl Road in Freeland.

For more information, visit http://whidbeyjapanbenefit.wordpress.com.

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