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Guest House: Space for All in an Open Heart

Spring Washam

"This is a challenging time worldwide, yet I have great faith that our spiritual communities can become true refuges of love, integrity, and compassion. We can focus on what connects all of us, with honesty at the forefront. Until recently, not many spiritually based organizations had even thought about inclusivity or multiculturalism, or even talked about racism. This has been a facet of the diamond of spiritual life left unpolished for many years."

We opened the East Bay Meditation Center in downtown Oakland to provide a welcoming environment for people of color, members of the LGBTQI community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups, to welcome everyone. When we opened the doors, I envisioned a place for all beings everywhere. I thought I was an open person, and then people with chemical sensitivities came and asked, “What about us?” Then Spanish-speaking people asked, “What about us?” Teenagers came, and I started to think, “I’m not sure we can fit everybody in.” Then a group of transgender men came and asked, “What about us, Spring? We need a place, too.” I started to feel the painful barriers to my love. Every new group needed me to change something so they could have a home at our center, too, and I got to see my own limitations. These diverse communities were coming with different needs, and each wanted our center to be accessible for them. I see now that every living being wants to feel loved, acknowledged, and protected. Feeling resistance within myself was painful, yet slowly I felt my heart expand every time I said …

About the Author

Spring Washam is a meditation and dharma teacher and author of A Fierce Heart. She blends indigenous healing practices with Buddhist wisdom.

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