Tuesday, June 21, 2011


2011 has not been a great year for fine weather in San Francisco thus far. I can think of a couple of spells of continued warm sunshine - not only during this last sesshin, but also the one before... but otherwise there has been a lot of grey, cooler weather with more prolonged rain than usual. So it is nice to be able to trot out that lovely English cliche, on this longest day of the year (though it is often applied to things other than the weather): 'phew, what a scorcher!'
This was the view before I went down to zazen at five this morning.

It was a lovely morning in the zendo; I had left several windows open, so there were breezes wafting in, and the birdsong almost drowned out the garbage trucks as it got lighter.
Last year at this time I was in England, and while I don't think I was up early enough on that occasion, I love that it starts getting light before four, and I was certainly appreciating the evening light that lingered until around ten.

Taken at around nine pm on this day last year
Of course solstice is another time we mark with a ceremony here at Zen Center. My new head chiden just resigned to be better able to take care of other apsects of her life, so I had to bring things together for the ceremony during the afternoon. I don't often get to sweep the courtyard these days, as I don't line up for a soji job in the morning any more, but I always used to enjoy that, and as someone seemed to have cleared off one of the upper balconies into the courtyard directly in front of the door, it seemed called for.
I set up everything during zazen, trying to make sure there was the requisite amount of symmetry, and afterwards I took it all down again - unusually all the residents disappeared to dinner without offering to help, and only the somewhat captive non-resident doanryo, Karissa and Roger, pitched in. Happily Gretchen has consented to resuming her former position - I look forward to seeing an update, and to having her help.

Roger and Karissa after the ceremony
The ceremony itself was pretty lovely, with a harmonious chanting of the Heart Sutra; we had words from Peru, China, Iran and India, as well as haiku, some Tennyson courtesy of Blanche, and some singing in the round. I realised that I am starting my sixth season as ino, having had the spring equinox as one of my first ceremonies last year - as well as one of the earliest, and sparsest, looking back at it now, blog entries.

And as no day would be complete at the moment without some chocolate making its way into my life, David, who was the kokyo this evening, brought along a package from Chris and Vivian, replete with a sumptuous box of chocolates which I am going to attempt not to finish tonight...

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