The nights are still growing longer and the days shorter as we move toward the Winter Solstice. Many sanghas are planning gatherings to celebrate the return of the light and to welcome the new year. And poetry is in the air – several sanghas are offering poetry events, including readings, a haiku walk, and Zen Poetry classes.
Sanghas held Rohatsu sesshins at different times this year. On Sunday December 12, Brooklyn Zen Center finished their first in-person, in Brooklyn, Rohatsu retreat in two years with 50 people attending. Laura O’Laughlin, their co-guiding teacher writes: “It was powerful, joyful and poignant to be together again for Rohatsu. If all goes well, we will rent a large parish house space on Saturdays at Christ Church in Cobble Hill starting in January (if the variant doesn’t stop us again). Father Mark, the pastor there, kindly let us use the space for our five-day sesshin. We included a long work period each day organizing and cleaning the parish house, which was needed care. We were building the temple while sitting in the temple!”
Zen Center North Shore (MA) is offering two poetry nights. Sangha members will be sharing their own or others’ poetry on December 16th and Norman Fischer will be reading his poetry on December 23rd from 7:15 to 8:30 EST. “When we invited Everyday Zen founder and spiritual director Norman Fischer to Zoom over to us, he told us that the last books he’s written are all poems. We asked him if he would share them with us and are so happy that he agreed. You can read more about Norman Fischer here in a piece written by one of his students. Here is the link to his reading: ZenZoom Poetry with Norman Fischer
In Chicago, Gyoshin Laurel Ross, a priest at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate will be offering a Haiku nature walk on December 16th.from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. CST. “We will walk in relative silence enjoying whatever Mother Nature has to offer that morning—possibly rain of course. We will carry note pads or sketch pads or cameras and not write poetry as we walk but make notes or sketches of our experiences. Participants will be invited to write haiku afterwards and share them with the rest of us if they wish.”
Many sanghas, including Zen Center North Shore and Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, B.C. are offering winter solstice celebrations. ZCNS will have an outdoor bonfire, hot cocoa, and a full moon ceremony. Mountain Rain sangha members are invited to bring poetry, visual art, or songs to share about the turning of the season, darkness and light
Ancient Dragon Zen Gate has invited one of their regular visiting teachers, Zenshin Florence Caplow, to give their year-end Sunday talk December 26th, as well as their inaugural 2022 Monday evening talk January 3rd. Florence is a Teacher in our Suzuki Roshi Zen lineage, as well as a Unitarian Universalist minister. She is a long-time environmental activist and the co-editor of The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women. Please see our website schedule for information on all our events.”
If you are looking for a way to be with others virtually on New Year’s Eve, you may want to join Mountain Rain’s inter-sangha gathering on Friday, December 31, from 8 a.m. to midnight: Sitting and Chanting for Peace. “Please join Mountain Rain and friends from other sanghas in a New Year’s Eve retreat to cultivate peace in our hearts, our families, our communities, and in our world. Each hour will consist of 40 minutes sitting meditation, ten minutes walking meditation and 10 minutes chanting. Usually we close by ringing the temple bell 108 times to dispel our many delusions.
On New Year’s Day in Milwaukee, the local Buddhist Peace Fellowship chapter offers a New Year’s Peace Gathering, Cultivating Joy in Uncertain Times at 10 a.m. CST. It will be both in-person and on Zoom (zoom link available at firstname.lastname@example.org). The morning consists of silent meditation, recitation, readings on Cultivating Joy, discussion, and a sock drive.
Offerings in 2022
For poetry lovers, Houston Zen Center is offering a six-week class in Zen Poetry, taught by Muso Constance Braden. It will be offered both in person and online on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 CST beginning January 4, 2022.
Milwaukee Zen Center is also offering a six-week Zen Poetry class beginning January 17, 2021. “In this six-weeks class, we will become acquainted with ancient and contemporary Zen poets and also find a new approach to Dogen Zenji’s work.”I think this class will be in-person only. For more information, email email@example.com.
Please let me know if your center or sangha is offering New Years Eve or Day events. I will include them in next week’s Newsette.
Please cherish yourselves!