Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Presence And Absence

At the Young Urban Zen meeting on Monday, we took the opportunity to reflect as a goup on the past year. It was a big gathering, as it usually is these days, and not everyone had the chance to speak, but there were many expressions of gratitude, and people noted how heart-warming the meeting felt. One of the questions we posed was about how everyone would like to see the group in the future, and I was delighted that people hoped that there could be YUZ groups in other cities, so that we end up with the kind of network of affiliated sanghas that Zen Center has. Part of the idea of that question, for me at least, had been for us to explore what wasn't working and what we could do differently, and since the tone on Monday night was mostly all positive, this other side didn't really come out. Talking afterwards with the one person who had also encouraged us to look at this side, so that we don't get stuck in thinking that everything is just fine the way it is, it occurred to me that perhaps we weren't asking the right people: those who were there last night - the brand new people aside, of course -  are the ones who have helped shape the group into what it is, and who keep coming because it is working for them. If we really wanted the answer to what didn't work, we should ask the hundred or more people on our email list who tried the group and then stopped coming, to see what they had to say about this.
While I was away in England, Blanche left on a trip to the East Coast, to see her grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter, and also to go and visit Joan in Marblehead, and I have been noticing how much I miss her around the building during the day. When I first lived here, and she was the Abbess, her presence and leadership were so palpable that I remember being a little disoriented at how different the building felt when she went to Tassajara to lead a practice period a few months later.
It is not just the Abbess though, however key her role is; we all make the community what it is by our presence and energy, just as the traffic and the birds contribute to our morning sitting.


Jessica said...

Just to address your point about possibly branching out YUZ to other cities, I would certainly be interested in such a group if someone started one here in Chicago.

Shundo said...

Hi Jessica - the same one that came to stay with us a few months ago I am guessing. You could talk to Taigen to see if there are enough people to get a group underway.

Jessica said...

Hi Shundo - Yep, it's me (although my stay was closer to a couple of weeks ago). Thanks for the lead. I reached out to Ancient Dragon Zen Gate via email and the woman who responded said they weren't interested. Ah well. If you have any other leads or ever become aware of a group forming in Chicago, please do let me know. Thanks!