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Mountain Rain Zen Community April Newsletter

Anna’s hummingbird   Calypte anna
Dear sangha friends,

We hope you are spending time outdoors, enjoying the spring flowers and somewhat warmer days. It’s an ongoing practice of finding ways to stay grounded and connected, as of us some get their vaccinations, others continue to wait, and infection rates remain high. You can read commentary on the pandemic everywhere, so instead of adding more, we’d like to share one thing that has helped us get through the past year: watching hummingbirds! 

Here in coastal BC the Anna’s hummingbird stays year-round. This small marvel has extended its range northward over the past 50 years. Kate saw her first in mid-winter, in Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver soon after moving from New Brunswick in 1977, and could not believe her eyes. How could a hummingbird live through the winter? As she watched, it repeatedly darted out from its perch and snatched tiny gnats from the air. Mystery solved.

Anna’s hummers arrived here on Blue Mountain about seven years ago, and have been a source of daily delight ever since.The males flash their iridescent magenta head feathers in the sun. The females are the earliest nesting bird in North America, and just this past week we saw a fledgling at the feeder. Also, a few days ago we saw the first flashy male rufous hummer, returning from wintering in Mexico–no quarantine required. They arrive reliably every year just when we see the first pink salmonberry blossoms, and the females a week or so later. Soon the yard will be buzzing with hummer activity–feeding, display flights and chases. 

How can we humans take ourselves quite so seriously when hummingbirds are around? Yes, we need to find our way forward, and address the serious and urgent issues of climate and social justice that will continue beyond the pandemic. And we need to do that well-rooted in our dharma practice and insight, with wisdom, compassion and skillful means. But we need not only, our formal meditation practice in the zendo, but direct experience of the world around us, the more-than-human world of such wonder, diversity and resilience. The mountains and waters, red cedars, hummingbirds, salmon, and dragonflies are our source and sustenance, our teachers. 

Let’s celebrate Earth Day by going outdoors with a companion or two, and re-sourcing ourselves. And joining in community to take skillful action.

Myoshin Kate and Shinmon Michael

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Newsette April 5, 2021

I have good news to share with you today! Our new website is up and running. Here is the link. We can thank Jon Voss, the SFZC IT staff, and volunteers Bernard Voss-Potts and Pat Yingst for the refreshed look and updated content. Please let me know if you see anything that needs to be corrected.

Branching Streams Flow On – Invitation to submit photos

You and members of your sangha are invited to a Branching Streams Online GatheringSaturday May 22 from 9a.m. to 12 noon PDT. Please save the date.

Teresa Bouza will be creating a video for the event, using photos of sanghas’ outdoor activities and images of nature. Please send your photos to tbouza@gmail.com. Teresa made a video using images she received from sanghas, which we shared at our December 10,000 Joys and 10,000 Sorrows gathering. Here’s the link in case you missed it.

There will be no Zoom Clinic with Jon Voss this week. He will be back on Wednesday June 14th.

Celebrating spring and Earth Day – Here are two expressions of spring you may enjoy knowing about:

Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver is offering a creative way of celebrating the new season with a Spring Renga-kai on Saturday, April 17, 1:00-4:00.
Cherry blossom season is here! Please join us for our fifth renga-kai, or “linked-verse gathering”. Renga is a sequence of linked verses, typically created by a group of 2-4 people in a convivial atmosphere. The roots of renga lie deep in the history of Japanese poetry, but the form has survived and evolved through the emergence of haiku and into modern times and other languages. We will learn how to write and share renga in a way that is both grounded in our Zen practice of moment-to-moment awareness, and also accepting and fun! Click here for registration and details.

Austin Zen Center is celebrating Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, 6.45 pm CT All are invited to participate (in person outside, or by Zoom) by offering words of gratitude, intention, and vow regarding our commitment to our Mother the Earth on paper ‘ema’ (plaques),: in-person or online. The paper ‘ema’ will be hung from the great oak in the front yard. The oak tree, which was symbolically ordained in 2014, reminds us of our unfathomable and absolute mutual interconnection with all things, and specifically that our natural world greatly deserves and needs our utmost respect, care, and stewardship. For more information, here’s the link.

Shokuchi Carrigan of Brooklyn Zen Center shared information about a Love Walk/Love Sit in New York City on April 11th from 3-6 p.m. EDT, sponsored by the Buddhist Council of New York. The walk is in solidarity with the Asian Community in response to recent and past violence toward people of Asian descent.

Wishing you joy on Buddha’s birthday this week, as we are all buddhas, taking our steps toward liberation for all beings.