As we celebrate the coming of spring, I am reminded of a song about Sister Julian of Norwich, the medieval mystic. The words of the chorus are “Ring out, bells of Norwich and let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know.” As many of us receive vaccinations we may be feeling some relief and hope that the isolation of the past year will be lifted in the coming months.
At the same time, in recent weeks in the U.S. there has been rising awareness of and concern about violence directed at people of Asian descent, heightened after last week’s killing of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. San Francisco Zen Center’s leadership wrote a statement which offers some resources for further learning and ways of intervening when we hear or see acts of anti-Asian hatred. Here is the link: Speaking Out About Anti- Asian Violence.
This is short notice – nevertheless, you may be interested in hearing Mushim Ikeda, a founding teacher at East Bay Meditation Center, and Greg Snyder, co-guiding teacher of Brooklyn Zen Center, in conversation on Tuesday March 23 at 4 p.m. PST. Mushim’s topic is “I Vow Not to Burn Out.” Here is the link.
As spring brings new life, Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento CA will be welcoming the birth of a child to a family in their sangha with a Jizo Ceremony. This ceremony may be of interest to those who are offering baby blessings or supporting sangha members who have lost babies or children. Their Jizo ceremony will follow a half-day sitting on Saturday April 3. Rev. Doralee Grindler Katonah will give the Dharma talk and lead the ceremony. Here is how she describes the ceremony:
Jizo is the Great Bodhissattva who protects the baby and mother during pregnancy and birthing. Jizo is known as the ‘Earth Store’ or ‘Earth Womb’ Bodhisattva who embodies and transmits the qualities of fearlessness, tenderness, and open heartedness – qualities that protect the mother and cradle the child. Participants are invited to offer blessings and good wishes through a spoken prayer to Jizo, which will then be typed in the chat and made into prayer flags for the family to hang. This will be a sacred time to come together to celebrate new life. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many sanghas are including more ceremonies in their offerings. This week and next there will be Full Moon Ceremonies offered by Zen Centers in many time zones across the U.S. including Austin Zen Center Read more & register, Seattle Soto Zen Read more, and Brooklyn Zen Center Read more.
Guiding teacher Peter van der Sterre invites you to join the Oak Street Zendo in San Francisco, and the 7th Street Zendo in Boise, Idaho for their 2nd annual spring practice period from March 27th to May 29th on Zoom, featuring Jennifer Block as Shuso.
The theme for the Practice Period is Way Seeking Mind: the Path to Our Original Self. Both beginners and those who have practiced for many years are welcome. You will find more information on the Oak Street Zendo website.
The Soto Zen Buddhist Association is offering Spring and Summer classes and requests your input. Here is a message from Anna Breckenridge, the SZBA Operations Coordinator:
”This year the SZBA will be opening its courses to members of other organizations and communities, including additional courses coming in the fall. We hope you’ll join us, and we have created a survey to gauge availability and interest in these offerings. Please click this link to take our survey. We look forward to hearing from you! The classes are:
Unpacking Whiteness: Exploring the Delusion of Race from a Buddhist Perspective and Building the Joy and Energy of Diverse Community: Living the Bodhisattva Vow
I hope you are all in good health. As spring unfolds, may you find ways to meet this tender time of both sorrow and opening.