The June sesshin focused on the teachings of Training in Compassion. Here are the folks who stayed and cleaned up the zendo afterwards -- enlightened Bodhisattvas one and all!
Zen Center is pleased to announce the ordination of Rev. Zengetsu Vicki Glenn and Rev. Sengetsu Tricia McFarlin by Abbot Gaelyn Godwin on Sunday, June 10. Many friends and family members celebrated this auspicious event. The new priests will continue to serve the sangha in countless ways.
The new refrigerator has arrived: it's spacious and fabulous! It is a commercial refrigerator, perfect for retreats (and everyday use, also). The new freezer will arrive a little later. These are made possible by all your generous donations to the appeal last year. Zen Center requested funds to repair the roof after Hurricane Harvey (accomplished: less costly than expected) and to replace the aged temple refrigerator with a new commercial one. This has now been accomplished. The total cost of the refrigerator and new freezer is just on target, at the low end of our estimate. Thanks to all who worked to research options (Joy T), inspect possibilities (Tim and Abbot Gaelyn), and then upgrade the wiring (Jose), build new shelves (Robert) move all the pots & pans (Jim and Tom), and move the unit into place (Brandon). But mostly, thanks to all of you for your ongoing generosity and love. The refrigerator is open for inspection anytime.
Abbot Gaelyn led the monthly meditation at the beautiful Rothko Chapel in April, surrounded by Mark Rothko's powerful art and a crowd of meditators. Here is an audio recording -- it includes meditation instructions along with a lot of meditative quiet! David Leslie, the newish director of the Rothko provides introductory remarks.
Audrey was one of the retreatants who chose to camp during the retreat -- while it was cold, it was also quiet and beautiful.
The Retreat was a beautiful, quiet, nature-filled, meditation sesshin. Buddha traveled to the rustic retreat area in safety with Audrey.
HZC Zen Priest Yazan Dave Johnson (left) welcomes our new Shuso Hondo Dave Rutschman (right) after the ceremony March 17. Hondo will serve for a full year as the Shuso/Head Student.
Mary Carol and Daniel installed the new garden altar, built by Robert, designed by Mary Carol. Soon we will have a ceremony to open the new bodhisattva in the altar. You can find it in the sitting area near the vegetable garden.
Sesshin/Retreat at HZC February 13-18 came to an end Sunday afternoon. The teachings were excellent; what a great way to deepen practice, in a few days!
New Orleans visitors from Mid City Zen arrived this weekend! Zen Priest Michaela Bono (center) gave a wonderful dharma talk Sunday! Shōhō Sam Hager (left) from Mid City Zen visited HZC as well. New Orleans visitors are always warmly welcomed at Houston Zen Center.
Rev. Royce Johnson came for a visit! Now living in Monterey, CA, Royce (ordained by the Abbot in 2014) was at Houston Zen Center to attend the One-Day Sitting and Precepts Receiving Ceremony. What a joy to see our long time friend and former resident of HZC!
The New Year arrived after 108 bows in the Center, a warm fire outside where we burned slips of paper with karmic hindrances written on them, and a toast to welcome the new opportunities. May the New Year bring us all together in peace. The Year of the Dog arrives -- and it's the year of the Earth Dog, communicative, sincere and reliable. This watercolor is a gift from Densho Quintero from the Zen group in Bogotá, Colombia.
Abby made a clear and strong presentation to the sangha on Sunday in support of her efforts to raise awareness and funds for WildAid, a group that protects animals from harmful poaching. Abby's project is for her Bat Mitzvah preparations. She offered beautiful soaps for sale that she'd made herself! The sangha asked many questions about the animals - and bought more than $400 worth of soap!
Zen Priests Linda Galijan and Greg Fain will be here this weekend! From Friday, December 22 until next week. Linda is the President of San Francisco Zen Center; Greg is the Tanto/Head of Practice of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California (the largest Zen monastery in the West). Both are very dear friends of Houston Zen Center and will be here for several days. Please come visit them and ask any questions you would like about Zen practice and training.
Rohatsu Sesshin (intensive meditation for December 7th Buddha's Enlightenment Day) included snow for outdoor walking meditation. Sesshin ended on Sunday with a celebration honoring all the Buddhas.
Cool air has arrived in Houston and the nights are growing longer. This is a good time for replenishment and reflection. We thank you all once again for your stupendous generosity and support of your Zen Center. This past year included the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, and it also included the joy of Retiring the Mortgage. We are on secure financial footing and the Center's outreach welcomes more and more new members.
All of us together maintain the Center's openness. Please think about Houston Zen Center as you consider your year-end gifts. The needs of the Center at this time are simple but important:
- Roof Repair: Hurricane Harvey caused small damage to the roof around the vents as well as one leak on the ground floor over the library. The estimate is $2,000.
- Temple Refrigerator: Replacing the 12-year-old refrigerator has become important as it can no longer keep food cold, especially during retreats as we open and close the doors frequently. We hope to replace it with a commercial refrigerator which can cool food quickly and provide more storage for the supplies needed during retreats. Estimate $6,500-$8,000 for a commercial refrigerator.
- Temple Bell: This is on our dream list and will probably be a multi-year project. The temple could use a new outdoor bell for calling people to service and zazen. The sound is beautiful. The cost, though, is $4,000 - 5,000 and it will take time to make it a reality.
Please feel free to discuss any of these projects with me, or with the President, Tricia McFarlin, Treasurer, Gary Grubitz, Secretary of the Board, Parmita Derden, or any Board members.
Our gratitude to you and all beings who have brought us together is boundless. May you have a peaceful holiday season.
With palms together, with Loving-Kindess,
Photos thanks to Daniel Salazar
Walk to Feed the Hungry
We walked down the Heights esplanade Saturday November 4th, together with eight other Buddhist sanghas, to bring awareness of the need to provide nourishment for people around the world. Buddhist Global Relief's founder, the eminent monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, came to show his support for Houston and to lead the walk. Thanks to Jessica Stoner, Dan Le, and all HZC members who worked so diligently to make the walk a beautiful reality for the 4th year in a row. The event raised much-needed funds to provide food for people, education for girls, and support for women starting small businesses in Cambodia, Malawi and elsewhere.
Heido Judson Dunn, Zen Center's Vice President and Membership Director, visited Mid City Zen in New Orleans with the Abbot. He helped with the rakusu sewing class - here with Shoho Sam Hager. Rev. Michaela Bono guides the sincere group.
New stone Buddha donated by Karl! Later today (Wednesday October 18) we will ceremonially move this image to a new garden haven.
Zen Center VP & Membership Director Heido Judson Dunn attended the September meeting of all Zen Centers associated with Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi. Taigen Leighton (right), Zen teacher and author of many important Zen books, hosted the gathering at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago. The meeting was useful and very interesting (ask Judson!)