Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gate, Gate

Today it feels like we mark not just the first day of late afternoon light, but also the end of a period of mourning here that began with Jerome's death on a Sunday three months ago. There has undoubtedly been a feeling of heaviness in the community, and I think a number of people have been thinking that Lou's funeral would be the transition point away from this.
It has been a long day - see below - but also a very satisfying one. I returned to the city in time to help with the set-up, and then a long and full rehearsal, at the end of which I still had time to eat some toast, reprint the ceremonies and get dressed. There were a lot of details to take care of but there was also a huge number of people helping to take care of things. Once I had done my part in marking out the reserved places in the Buddha Hall - there were always going to be more people coming than we could fit in there, and I was glad I was not one of the ushers who had to steer people to the dining room to watch the livestream - I felt that I could just let everything unfold, which it then proceeded to do, pretty much without mishap. There were many distinguished guests, from Zen Center and beyond, a number of whom spoke very movingly about how Lou had affected their lives. At the risk of being selective, I particularly loved Norman Fischer's pithy encapsulation of Lou's lectures, which provoked much laughter of deep recognition.
I didn't manage to take many pictures, but this was a view into the Buddha  Hall just before the ceremony as I was running around with last minute things:
Last night with the boys' group at Green Gulch went smoothly enough. We had better weather than we had had doing the same thing in December, so we were able to go to the beach in the evening, in the light of the half moon, watching for newts and listening to frogs. Not only that but there was a fire still burning in one of the pits, though the boys were all keen to light their own, and we had ample smores (for those on the other side of the Atlantic and elsewhere, I understand this is typical American fare, marshmallows toasted on a stick, then eaten with a piece of chocoate and a Graham cracker - I had it for the first time at the very same spot on Muir Beach a couple of years ago as part of a City Center's residents' retreat). We didn't sleep in the zendo this time, as we thought the wake-up bell would end up being too early, with the clock change, and although in the yurt we didn't have the zendo's calming effect on the boys, we did have a nice fire going in the stove, and I got a reasonable amount of sleep, which was one aspect of this whole weekend I was worried about. The boys were not very excited to be woken at six (new time), and taken on a hike to Hope Cottage for a sunrise that did not materialise, but I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged they were when we started to discuss the precepts with them after breakfast, especially hearing how tired they claimed to be as we started. Maybe one of them - actually I hope all of them - will end up being as esteemed and loved by their community as Lou was by his.

Mount Tam and Highway 1 on a grey Sunday morning, from above Green Gulch

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