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May 13
Atlantic Canada, Community Articles
Tribute to Connie Clause and MilkLake Retreat

By David Whitehorn

On October 21, 2010, Connie Clause passed away after living gracefully with cancer for four years. She died in her own bed, in her own home, on the land that she and her husband Gregg had nutured for over ten years, the MilkLake Shambhala Retreat Centre on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

Her last four months were an example of how a true practitioner can relate directly with the end of their life. She was an inspiration to all the health care professionals and practitioners who came to support her.

She leaves behind the memories and spirit of a compassionate and gregarious woman, a devoted dharma practitioner and a uniquely talented artist. Her many paintings and cards can be found throughout Nova Scotia and several of her works hang in the Sakyong’s residence in Halifax.

The subject matter for her watercolor paintings ranged from flower vases, to birds, to the coast line of Nova Scotia. A small sample of her works can be see at The Chronicles of CTR.

Here are three of her paintings:

Forty-nine days after Connie’s passing, on a day marked by the years’ first signs of snow, forty of her friends and fellow practitioners gathered at the Retreat Centre. In the field next to the main house, Gregg had expertly prepared a lhasang with a roaring fire in a 55 gallon drum. MilkLake is renowned for the juniper that Gregg harvests and prepares. On this occasion what seemed like oceans of juniper smoke rose into the scurrying grey clouds.

The lhasang completed, we followed the path through the woods to the Mother Lineage Shrine on the shores of Dragon Lake. The shrine is one tangible reminder of Connie’s tireless efforts to make the retreat center reflect the profound nature of the Shambhala practices. Connie planned it. Gregg built it. As the practitioners chanted the homage to the Mother lineage, Gregg tossed handfuls of Connie’s ashes out across the blue waters.

With Connie’s passing, Gregg has taken on the full responsibility for running MilkLake, taking over Connie’s financial and office work while continuing his skilled maintenance of the three beautiful retreat cottages and stewardship of the land. Most of all, Gregg has thrown his energy into providing personal support to each and every person interested in doing a solitary retreat, a joyful task that he and Connie always shared.

Information about MilkLake, including contact information for Gregg, can be found on the MilkLake website (http://milklake.com/).

About MilkLake Retreat Centre

The MilkLake Retreat Centre, a hidden jewel of the Shambhala mandala, is located amidst the fields and forest of the beautiful South Shore region of Nova Scotia, just over an hours drive south of Halifax. The former dairy farm forms an arc on the shore of Five Island Lake (re-dubbed “Dragon Lake”), one of many picturesque lakes in the area. The Atlantic coast is just 15-minutes away and the historic towns of Lunenburg, Liverpool and Mahone Bay, and the Kejimkujik National Park are all nearby. Just down the road is Mill Village, where Chogyam Trungpa spent his 1984 in retreat.

In addition to the classic farm house where Director and Retreat Master Gregg Clause lives, and a large barn, there are three modern retreat cabins, each with full bathroom and kitchen facilities. The cabins are comfortable, spacious and bright. A secluded trail winds along the shore of the lake providing stunning views of islands, sky and forest. As well, the trail leads to the beautiful Mother Lineage Shrine that overlooks the water. For over twenty years, practitioners of many traditions have come to MilkLake to enter into solitary retreat in this safe, secluded and comfortable environment.

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1 response to “ Tribute to Connie Clause and MilkLake Retreat ”
  1. Margi Gordon
    May 24, 2011

    Dear Greg,

    I just read of Connie’s passing. My heart goes out to you. I know what you’re going through.
    Bill just died on April 16th, a little over a month ago.
    I appreciate the many, many memories and grief in your life now. the emptiness. . .

    I send you my heartfelt warmth and love during both our times of loss.

    Margi Gordon

    p.s. David Walmark has my email if you wish to respond.

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