One of the tenets of zen training, especially in the Japanese tradition, is that, while you are expected to keep your eyes down at all times, you are also expected to observe what is going on, and to be able to step into any role at a moment's notice.
My first doan job, as I have probably mentioned in the past, was as afternoon jiko. Indeed, because of when I arrived at City Center (and that will be eleven years ago next week), I was supposed to do the job before I had ever been to evening zazen. Luckily I had a trusty native guide to show me what to do so that I didn't make a complete fool of myself. A little while later, having got used to the basics of the job, the ino at the time showed me how to take care of giving and receiving the offering cups for the Suzuki Roshi Memorial, just in case I needed to do it that evening. It never hurts to know how to do this, was her way of thinking, though in the end I was not called upon on that occasion.
Today I thought it might be prudent to give Dennis the same instruction before we went down to zazen, and sure enough, when the time came for the ceremony, there was not a more senior doshi or another jiko to be seen, so, as we did last month, I had Gretchen take the first position in the offering; I was the doshi and Dennis the jiko. We had a relatively untested doan and kokyo combo as well; nevertheless it all went very nicely. I had another chance to be eyeball to eyeball with the statue, which I did enjoy.