Yesterday morning was understandably quiet in the zendo, as the residents who sat all weekend were not obliged to come to the morning schedule. Young Urban Zen, by way of a contrast, was packed to the gunwhales again last night, with I think fifty people in attendance.
We have been mixing it up a bit recently. Particularly, Simon, Tim and myself have been wanting to get more women's voices to the fore - when we were planning the group early last year, most of the organising group were women, but once we got underway, none of them ended up in regular attendance for different reasons. Last week Maggie facilitated our one-year restrospective, during which Stephanie had made a call for a different format; I invited her on the spot to lead the group this week, and she presented a series of exercises designed for us all to open up about ourselves. Towards the end of the evening, I could feel how warm and bubbly the energy was, and even with a larger than usual number of first-timers, everyone at the end, when we were asked in turn to express our appreciation, said that they felt included, and there was much gratitude for this safe and welcoming space that we offer. It was noticeable afterwards that many people were not in a hurry to leave; I was also happy to see that the people who had been at Green Gulch over the weekend were all greeting each other warmly, as I remember from last time.
I managed to take time off between morning zazen and afternoon zazen, and when I got back to business I heard that Katherine Thanas, a student of Suzuki Roshi's, and the long-time teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center, was very ill. With Blanche's help we got a well-being service together for her. I asked Blanche if she wanted to be doshi - I was filling in for Lucy - but she said she wanted to be kokyo, and led us in chanting the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo. We all wish Katherine well.