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July 23, 2007

Actress brings third annual Buddhist retreat to Rockport

Lindsay Crouse, a film and television actress with roots in Annisquam, found a spiritual path that she wanted to share with Cape Ann residents.

Nearly three years ago, she organized a Buddhist educational program to spread the knowledge and serenity Buddhism has brought her.

Her efforts met with a greater community response than she imagined. Now she is preparing for the third annual retreat at Windhover in Rockport from Aug. 20 to 26.

Only about 30 people had signed up three weeks before the first retreat in 2005.

“I had no doubt that there were many who would love the retreat, but I needed to get the word out. After an article in the local newspaper, 250 people called me in the next week and a half,” she said. “It was an incredible response. But what really moved me were the stories that poured out of people to a complete stranger.”

They shared with Crouse tales of family difficulties, the death of someone close, their inability to hold on to relationships, their confusion about what their lives meant, their need for a “timeout.”

From that seed, a growing local movement has blossomed to include people of all faiths. Crouse is quick to say that practicing Buddhism can be just a piece of someone’s spiritual practice and in no way excludes those who follow a particular religion. There is room for both, she said in a recent interview in Gloucester.

“I have often said that Buddhism took my Christianity out of the attic and shined it up,” she said.

Crouse, an Academy Award-nominee for best supporting actress in 1984’s “Places in the Heart,” knows about stress, in part, from life as an actress in Los Angeles and Hollywood, and raising a family.

The first retreat sought to clear up any misunderstandings about the practice of Buddhism. Last year’s retreat focused on compassion. The subject this year is happiness.

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