WOODSTOCK – The monks at Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple don't need to feel wind to know it's sweeping through Woodstock.
They can hear it in the rattle of the colorful glass windows around them.
Two large stained glass windows and a smaller one at Blue Lotus, 221 Dean St., are in dire need of repair after being in place for 109 years, said Bhante Sumana, a Blue Lotus monk. Repairing and preserving the century-old panes depicting Jesus Christ will cost $25,000, sending temple leaders to ask for donations.
“This is a very beautiful thing at the temple,” Sumana said. “You can see the Buddha here and also here is the Jesus. You [go around the country], you can visit the Buddhist temple and other religious places. You cannot see the Jesus and Buddha. It is a very special thing.”
Blue Lotus bought the building from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in early 2012 and started to notice deficiencies in the stained glass windows soon after, office manager Tod Nielsen said. Some of the lead holding the pieces in place has crumbled. Two of the windows have caved on the bottom. They leak and are ill-protected by a Plexiglas covering on the outside of the building. In one spot, the leak has damaged a wall.
“Luckily, there’s only one or two panes that have broken,” Nielsen said. “Pieces of the glass have broken, and I think we can replace that with something that is very near to the original.”
The largest standing about 10 feet tall, the stained glass windows were installed in 1906. They serve as a reminder of freedom of religious expression to the monks.
Replacing the windows, however, would be crippling. Two stained glass restoration companies have estimated the repair and new storm windows would cost $25,000, which Nielsen said is more than three times the temple’s monthly operating budget.
A GoFundMe.com account for the window repair has received nearly $7,000 so far. Temple leaders don't have a solid date they need to hit their $25,000 goal, but with every windy or rainy day, the need seems more urgent.
Some people have asked why a Buddhist temple would want to be adorned with vibrant depictions of Jesus, Mary and an angel. Sumana said the windows make some of the temple visitors more comfortable with meditation. The windows also inspire monks as they teach from a large Buddha statue, he said.
In some ways, the windows are as much a part of the temple as the Buddha statue itself, Sumana said.
“In this building, we are not teaching religions,” Sumana said. “We are teaching meditation, how to be happy. How to calm down. And Jesus and Buddha they are both very spiritual teachers.”