My dear friend lost her zen teacher last week, suddenly of a heart attack. Not only is this a great loss for her (which in and of itself makes my heart break for her) this is a great loss to my sangha. He was the co-abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center, which is the “mother ship” so to speak. Our little sangha falls under the Dharma Rain umbrella. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for this, and in turn, we owe Kyogen a huge debt of gratitude. His leadership has set the stage for us, and has allowed us to be what we are. I have never met him but I feel like he is a part of me because of his teachings.
Last night at our sitting group we had a beautiful memorial for him. This was the first time I participated in a Zen Buddhist memorial service. It started with zazen and about 10 minutes before we were done with zazen one of our teachers quietly made an announcement about the ceremony.
When I am sitting in the zendo I pick a seat that faces a window and has a beautiful view of Mt. Hood. Generally, when sitting in zazen you are supposed to face a blank wall so you don’t have any distractions. But I do allow myself this one luxury sometimes. I guess because I am still so new at this. I will marvel at the view for a few minutes but then my gaze goes down to the carpet a few feet in front of me (like it’s supposed to).
When our teacher was introducing the ceremony she talked a little bit about Kyogen and how he has been so important for our sangha. As she was talking my gaze went from the floor to the view because something caught my eye. It was light that had caught my eye. Until that moment it had been a gray and dark, rainy day. I couldn’t even see the mountain from where I sat. But at that moment when I looked up there was the most glorious beam of light shining down on the foothills in front of the mountain. I kind of couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It gave me chills and I wanted to grab my friend who was sitting next to me and point out the window but felt that it would be inappropriate to do so. So I sat silently in awe as I watched the clouds light up with the sun.
It was a beautiful moment that filled my heart with hope and love.
When I was a teenager I worked at Baskin and Robbins. Like any minimum wage job, it was thankless, despite being surrounded by all of the ice cream I could ever want to eat.
One night as we getting ready to close a woman came into the shop. She was pregnant and she wanted an ice cream sundae. We were out of hot fudge. I had to tell this pregnant lady that we were out of hot fudge. I told her and she flipped out. She couldn’t believe a Baskin and Robbins was out of hot fudge. But we were. I couldn’t change this fact. I couldn’t magically make hot fudge appear out of nowhere. I was not the Jesus of Baskin and Robbins. So I had to just keep telling her that we were out of hot fudge and she kept becoming disappointed and angry with me. She couldn’t accept the situation. She left feeling very disappointed and I felt horrible for denying a pregnant lady her hot fudge sundae.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to start a “Sheet a day” project – in which I shoot a sheet of 4×5 film every day in my Zero 45 as a way to get to know the camera. I started the project and have a couple weeks worth of photos. Here is my most recent one: a 20 minute exposure of a self portrait while I am typing on my laptop at work.
I have already learned so much about all sorts of things so far! I am really glad I am doing this. The photos are quite mundane and not the most exciting in the world, but it’s fun to not really care about being “exciting” and to just experiment and try things out. I am doing this project for me.
I was a bit reluctant to share these with people but decided, for the sake of being organized, to post them in a Flickr album. I have to admit that it has been interesting to see the feedback on them (not really expecting any to begin with).
If you are interested following the project let me know! We will need to connect on Flickr because I am limiting visibility to Flickr friends.
A couple of months ago I mentioned that the Traveling Yashica was on it’s way to me. Well, the camera came and went I and I had a blast with it! I shot three rolls of film through it, two for me and one for a films swap with Hamish, the owner of the camera. I shot a roll of slide film and a roll of Black and White film through it. I think this is my favorite from the roll of slide film. I took this at a carnival during my small town’s Mountain Day’s festival. The carnival visits every year and when it comes to town I always remember the conversation I had with a young man who worked there about fleecing the people who go to it.
Read all about my adventures with The Traveling Yashica here!