There is a new library at the Center, with build-in shelves and an area for backstock. It was funded in memory of a community member Sophary Varns by her husband Nathan and grew from the vision and effort of many in the community. Here’s the story:
Patty Pandzik, PFOD librarian, had a problem. Boxes of books were randomly stashed throughout the building. “Books were above the meditation hall, in the furnace area, and behind various curtains. No one knew how to find what you wanted,” Patty said. Plus, “there were big gaps on the shelves and no organizing system.”
She brought her concerns to Alistair Williamson, chair of the Building Committee. “We had 110 boxes of books,” said Alistair. “I had been feeling that stacking books all over the Center was just not treating them well. It was not respectful.” So after talking with many community members, “Alistair came up with a beautiful plan for a new library area,” Patty said. “And he could build it himself if we could find the money.” They brought the plan to the Board, unsure of the response since money was tight.
Meanwhile, Patty had invited Nathan to help her sort and inventory the exploding stock of books. As they organized, she showed him the design for a new library area, mentioning that she and Alistair had offered seed money for the project. Thinking of his wife Sophary, who had recently passed away, Nathan inquired into how much more funding was needed. When he got the answer, he said, “I can do that,” — and he did.
“Sophary would be pleased to leave something like that for our members as a tool for helping and to benefit their practice,” Nathan said. Adding, “I feel so much gratitude toward this Dhamma Center and the monks and so much appreciation for having the Center here.”
With funds secured, Alistair started building. “He did 99% of the labor,” Nathan said, including “finding a nice door and getting everything leveled and plumbed.”
At the same time, Patty and Nathan completed the book inventory—a huge task—and concluded they had many more books than the area would ever hold. And so 23 boxes were driven to Wat Atammayatarama, a Thai monastery outside of Seattle (Ajahn Ritthi, abbot of the monastery, was delighted to have them). Other boxes went to Wat Dhammarangsey, a Cambodian monastery in West Linn, which needed books in English for their younger generation (this was especially sweet because Nathan serves on their Board). “That left us with just the books we wanted to keep,” said Patty.
Once construction was complete, Patty and Nathan loaded up the shelves. According to Patty, the library is now organized, “in a way that people can find what they’re looking for.”
With the project done, Alistair reflected on how it gradually came to fruition. “Patty saw a real need at the Center. It took a lot of persistence for her to get people involved and figure out a solution. In doing so, she drew people together.” He added, “it was fitting that Nathan wanted to fund it in memory of Sophary, that we could provide a way for him to do that.”
Patty reflected on the patience and other Dhamma qualities the project inspired. “If you had told me this would take a year, I might not have done it. My mind would have spun all sorts of stories and I would have just given up. But I was determined to not entertain those stories. I just stayed in the present moment and id the next thing. Plus the collaboration of kalyanamitta – it was beautiful. the Dhamma was always present.”
Nathan added, “Sophary would be happy to know this was going on with her in mind. I thought this was something I could do to help the Dhamma Center and also to remember Sophary. I’m just pleased I had the resources to help out.”