Omicron on the Horizon

The COVID-19 Task Force met yesterday afternoon, and it was decided that – with the certain arrival of the new Omicron variant and the uncertainty of how it will play out – we can’t guarantee at this point that the Rohatsu hybrid sesshin (January 8 -15, 2022) will go ahead as planned. If you are hoping to attend Rohatsu sesshin in-person and live out-of-town, we suggest that you purchase travel insurance, in case we do need to change to an online format at the last minute. A decision will be made, tentatively, on Tuesday, January 4, and we’ll let everyone know if in-person participation can proceed or not. In-person participation, for instance, may be cancelled at the last minute if there’s a staff outbreak on the Friday or Saturday before sesshin.

As always, if we do proceed with in-person participation, a rapid antigen test will be required before your travel departure; the use of home antigen test kits are acceptable. Given Omicron’s rapid infection rate, the PCR test is no longer required, as the results can take several days to receive, and infection may occur in the interim. Additional precautions will be taken for sesshin, and we will administer an antigen test to everyone just before sesshin begins.

Finally, if you are eligible for a booster shot (you are eligible if you are more than 6 months from your last vaccine dose), please get one. It is now a requirement for going to sesshin in-person. If you’re having difficulties scheduling an appointment online, you’re welcome to contact Sangha member Luka Häkkilä, who has assisted people in the past.

Sunday’s Teisho

Teisho will proceed tomorrow morning, Sunday, December 19, with zazen at 8:30 and teisho at approximately 9:30. However, there will be no post-teisho refreshments, and the previously-scheduled Sangha meeting is postponed. The next Sangha meeting will be online, Wednesday, January 5, 2022, at 6:30 pm.

As for New Year’s Eve celebrations, when the Center reopens on December 28, the COVID-19 task force will assess whether we can proceed safely with modified in-person celebrations, or if they will need to be exclusively on Zoom.

2022 Annual Giving and Information Update

When we delivered the materials for the Center’s annual-giving mailing to the printer ten days ago, we were told that they are unusually backed up with large jobs this holiday season. However, the mailing should go out within the next few days. We apologize for the delay and hope that our members and friends will give as generously as their financial circumstances permit. The Center very much relies on the generous contributions of its members and friends, and we greatly appreciate all donations however large or small!

Zazen in the Zendo During the Break

As we mentioned in the previous email, members are welcome to sit in the zendo, but at Arnold Park only. At Chapin Mill, the heating system has been turned way down in the entire north section of Retreat Center building, including the zendo.

Free Antigen Test Kits

Most communities in Monroe County have announced their plans for giving out free COVID-19 rapid antigen at-home test kits. The county bought 750,000 kits, which each containing two tests, to help slow the spread of the virus going into the holidays. The rapid antigen test, while less accurate than a PCR test, still catches 90 to 95 percent of cases, health officials say; it does so in real time and will show whether you are contagious.

Here’s the Democrat & Chronicle article which includes the locations where you can pick up a free test kit, both this weekend and next weekend.

Cleaning of the Temple (Arnold Park)

With the start of each New Year, we turn our attention to all the corners and crevices of the Arnold Park buildings with our annual “Cleaning of the Temple.” On Wednesday, December 29, we’ll begin with a brief chanting service at 9:45 am (wearing masks of course) and finish with a pizza lunch (alternatives available) at 12:30 pm. Contact Trueman to let us know you’ll be joining in the fun!