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Newsette – April 24, 2023

As May approaches, I am looking forward to visiting several Branching Streams groups on the East Coast. Inryu Ponce-Barger, guiding teacher of All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, DC invited me to give a talk on May 11 and assist her with preparations for a Shuso Ceremony May 13. From DC I will go to Boston to join Joan Amaral and Zen Center North Shore in a one day sitting on May 14th, and then visit Hakusho Ostlund at Brattleboro Zen Center in Vermont, giving a talk on May 16th.  I will end my trip back in Boston, to meet with John Bailes, who leads One Heart Zen in Somerville.

Today’s Newsette highlights news from two European teachers, and a request from Vancouver.

Dario Girolami, Abbot of Centro Zen l’Arco in Rome, is organizing the first conference on European Buddhist Chaplaincy in Rome on June 24 and 25, both at Sapienza University and online. There will be pre-conference workshops on June 23. The conference is sponsored by the Italian Buddhist Union (UBI) and by the European Buddhist Union (EBU). “The purpose of the conference is to develop, organize and support Buddhist chaplaincy in Europe to provide support, training opportunities and materials for those engaged in Buddhist chaplaincy, to identify spiritual and pastoral needs within Buddhist communities and to encourage broader community cohesion and social integration.”

Bernd Bender writes that Akazienzendo in Berlin’s summer sesshin is scheduled from July 12-16. The sesshin will take place in a small village close to the Polish border, about 90 minutes east of Berlin. Bernd is also organizing a retreat this fall in Greece, in the tradition of Suzuki Roshi, where English will be the spoken language. Here is a link to the retreat.

Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC is looking for “an experienced Administrative Director to provide administrative support in managing our growing organization. This is a one-year contract position, renewable after 12 months depending on funding. Click here for a job description and contact details. Please share this information widely.”

We are nearing the end of National Poetry Month in the U.S. Thursday April 27 is Poem in Your Pocket Day – a day to share poems with family members, friends, storekeepers, etc.I will close with a poem:

“Small Kindnesses” by Santa Cruz poet Danusha Laméris, from her book Bonfire Opera:

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

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