Thursday, January 27, 2011

Form Is Emptiness

A contingent of us went over the bridge after lunch to Emeryville for Lou's cremation. I had packed up the traveling ceremonial kit box, and brought a few other things as well, just to be on the safe side. Vicki had gone ahead to pick up Sojun, Joan had taken Blanche; family members, Sotoshu representatives and others had all gathered in a mustard-coloured room half-filled with pews. Lou lay in state in the other half. There was a little debate about whether the priests would be wearing rakusus or okesas. It felt odd to be in a ceremonial space with shoes on.
I set up an altar table as best I could, and when Sojun and Vicki arrived, we made a few adjustments; we handed out chant sheets, and Sojun explained the ceremony. Of course we didn't completely follow the script he had prepared, but everything that needed to happen happened. The family said their parting words, and we all chanted the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo as we circumambulated the coffin, offering incense and surrounding Lou with flower petals.
Finally we escorted the coffin into the cremation room, which was unadorned and industrial, and chanted the Heart Sutra as Lou was manoeuvred to the door of the oven; the words never seemed more fitting. There were tears, hugs, thank yous, and then we all dispersed in the bright warm sunshine.


Mike said...

I only hope that I have such adoring friends and family to see me off when it is time.

Ruth said...

Very lovely, very moving.

jwforeman2004 said...

Thank you for this post and for organizing the BLOG site. I have known none of our recently departed face to face, yet I feel the love, gratitude and surrender for their being among us, if only for a short while. Bowing to all.