Although the fires near Tassajara have been sufficiently contained to create safe enough conditions for a few students to return, some fires are still burning in California, Oregon, and Washington.
This Newsette includes a message from Ashland Zen Center in Oregon, and news of Zendo closings in Chicago and San Jose, CA. These reports hint at the grief that many of us are feeling, as the number of deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. nears 200,000. In addition, many of us are mourning the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg last Friday.
Ramana Waymire of Ashland Zen Center wrote on September 17th, “We are smoked in, but thankfully we are safe. We each know someone who has lost a home or livelihood to the Southern Oregon fires, and know many who have been displaced by fire. The outpouring of support from the whole valley has been tremendous in the face of this suffering. Our sangha is gathering up care packages to distribute to those affected by fire. We also have an apartment which we are making available for short-term housing for some people who are living in their cars because their homes burned down. The fires have disproportionally affected the Hispanic community so we are grateful to have a Mexican sangha member who can assist in translation.”
Douglas Floyd, Board Chair, sent this message: “Based on three Sangha Community Meetings held in August, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s board of directors is announcing that we have unanimously agreed that Ancient Dragon Zen Gate will not be renewing our lease after it expires on December 31, 2020. It’s with a heavy heart that we came to this conclusion. The temple on Irving Park Boulevard in Chicago has been our home for over 10 years. It’s important, however, to keep in mind that Ancient Dragon Zen Gate was a community before we occupied that building, and also that in the midst of this pandemic we have stayed together and grown together as a community. We will conduct a temple closing ceremony on December 6, which will include removing the image of Shakyamuni Buddha from our altar. The ceremony will be streamed on ZOOM, and additional information about the ceremony will be posted beforehand on our website www.ancientdragon.org.”
Cornelia Shonkwiler, guiding teacher of Middle Way Zen writes: “We did close our rented space in San Jose. Middle Way Zen is continuing on Zoom for now, but we are hoping to find a new sitting space when the pandemic is over, or at least better controlled.”
Here is a description of the closing ceremony from sangha member Ann Meido Rice: [The ceremony] “was held in the garden courtyard of the Art Gallery with which we were associated, with many of the sangha in attendance, socially distanced and masked. The ceremony was a simple and poignant one, much like the history and workings of our sangha. It was one in which many students were involved without realizing the specific contribution they had made to the service.
Cornelia’s closing remarks were beautiful and real: ‘With the closing of our zendo, we may experience a sense of loss, but we should remember that an ending can lead to a new beginning…Let’s go forward with trust and confidence that this practice will continue forever.’
My overall experience was one of realization of the profound effect of the simplicity, connection, teaching, and zazen that Middle Way Zen has had on many in the 11 years that we called this address our home, with the circle ever widening from this point. We are now on Zoom with zazen, services, talks, and social catch-up 6 mornings/week…..small and still together.”
On another note, by popular request Jon Voss will repeat his basic Zoom training Wednesday, September 23rd from 11 to noon Pacific time. Here’s the description and link:
Time to add some backup to your online zendo team? This training will go over the basics for using Zoom to host online zendos. We will cover basic security features, how hosts can set up the zendo when they log on, using recorded bells and other sounds, and a quick intro to breakout groups if time allows. This class will be recorded.
This class is in lieu of the regular Wednesday Zoom clinic. If you have any questions, you can email me or Jon, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we approach the Autumn Equinox, already experiencing the shorter days and changing colors of Autumn, may we find ways to connect with and support one another.