A Fitting Benefit


Radhule Weininger begins a guided meditation at the benefit. All photos by Sarita Relis Photography.

In the days following the January 9 mud and debris slide, supporters of La Casa de Maria and its Center for Spiritual Renewal reached out in large numbers, expressing their deep concern for a beloved institution. Almost immediately, volunteers offered to sponsor fundraisers, the first of which was held Sunday, February 25 at Trinity Episcopal Church on State Street in Santa Barbara.

Organized by longtime friend of La Casa Radhule Weininger of Mindful Heart Programs and One Dharma Sangha the program featured reflections by interfaith leaders from the Santa Barbara community, guided meditation and Taize chanting, music, poetry, and refreshments.

Each speaker and attendee had a connection to La Casa – some expressed them to the group and others held them privately. Radhule Weininger spoke for all when she shared that “many of us are missing our spiritual and psychological refuge, not to speak of the wonderful, generous land.” Others referred to La Casa’s special place in the hearts and minds of its friends and supporters as a true interfaith center.

Steve Jacobsen, La Casa’s director gave a report about the status of the property, but focused more on the response from around the world since the event. “The ocean of wet, debris-laden mud destroyed a great deal,” he shared. “But that destruction has ceased. In recent weeks the mud had dried and become solid land, terra firma once again. The losses will not go away, but something else has been appearing. Little springs and streams have emerged. But you will not see them with your eyes, for these springs and streams do not consist of water, but are composed of grace…When we were first able to post on our website page and social media, we acknowledged all the destruction. But we also shared the news that a third of our property was untouched, that our sacred land was still there, and that we would rebuild and renew. In the days that followed, that news was seen and shared by more than 60,000 people, and affirmations came to us from around the world. So many people had to tell us their stories of how there lives had been changed forever at La Casa. Each story was full of love and gratitude and hope, and each one became part a spring and a stream, and together we began to experience a mighty river of grace.”

That grace, Jacobsen explained, has come in the form of donations, offers to pitch in, and offers to hold fundraisers, much like the one that was occurring that day.

The event raised more than $4000, which will be used to help fund the renewal and rebuilding of La Casa de Maria. Our deepest thanks to Radhule Weininger, Michael Kearney, the attending faith leaders, performing artists and friends of La Casa for their support. Thanks also to Fresco Café for providing wonderful snacks and to Sarita Relis for documenting the event.

The next event that will raise money for La Casa de Maria is on Sunday March 18 at 2pm. Enid Osborne, the Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara and a former staff member at La Casa will host a benefit poetry reading at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.