It has been a wild ride for me these past couple weeks at city center. And not only because there have been at least 7 special ceremonies, a one-day sit, and a half-new doanryo since I was thrown in the deep end of Inohood. The last time I set foot in the city center zendo was 5 years ago during my first zen center practice period. Two years prior, I took my first step into the zendo as a guest student, receiving my first zazen instructions from the work leader. As I move about the building now, wearing this new, not yet worn in Ino hat, I catch glimpses of these former selves everywhere. I see her praying for the bell to ring to end zazen in the zendo, crying in the Ino's office during her first sesshin, and swearing she can't stand the pain of sitting one more period in the zendo. I also see her happy and at ease, grateful that she's found a community and spiritual practice that finally feels like home. And then I see her gliding down the back staircase and slipping out the lily alley door, curious about meeting the wider world again and again as soon as she steps out of the temple and onto the city streets.
During my first practice discussion while I was a guest student, a teacher explained to me the concept of one's life as a spiral. I might feel like I'm in the same place I've been before, he said, but in fact I have circled back around and am now at a different point on the spiral. So here I am again some years later, after spending 3 of them in the monastery, experiencing what it is to be this me again at 300 Page St.
Thank you for inviting me back into this home to practice with you. I feel an incredible amount of gratitude for everyone who sets foot in this mysterious building. May we continue to do this totally weird, beautiful, made-up thing together, supporting each other in each moment to keep waking up.