To Welcome a New Year

Image by John Harder


Dear Bodhisattvas,

Tonight an icy cold wind is knocking around the branches outside; and the bright, pale moonface high above looks a bit anxious, peering down at us earthlings. What are we up to?

It’s been quite a year, 2017. A tough year, an anxious year. We’re in the midst of a rude awakening, and no one likes rudeness. But we kind of like awakening, actually, and we sometimes notice that there’s an aliveness to this time, and that there’s a kind of goodness in shedding illusions that may have kept us comfortable, but kept us distracted, always trying to patch together a comfort that seemed just about to shred.

It’s shredding. And to quote a song, “we all could use a little mercy now.” Fortunately, we may also be discovering that right inside of the discomfort of hard discoveries, of losses, is the mercy we need. Our hearts open. We notice the moon is very, very big and bright. The wind whooshes. Water boils burbly for our cup of tea. We remember the beautiful voice of our mother, of our friend. And we know that there is always a way to meet what comes to meet us with “a just and loving gaze.” Always, there is the meeting that brings forth something new in the world, something never seen before. And there will be something helpful we can offer.

We, with our sangha—with our community of heart-minds dedicated to the ways of awakening—-have good company on our pilgrimage. In 2017, we worked together to offer many kinds of support for practice, and we end the year with vitality and determination to offer and deepen this Zen way, to dream it onward. Fortunately, we are here to do it.

So we will gather this Monday evening in Shove Chapel to welcome the new year, to sing our sutra service and to ring 108 bells—to release 108 delusions, and offer 108 vows of liberation. The 5:15 discussion will take up a koan for a new year, a story of time and timelessness—-and at our 6:10 service we’ll sit for one period of meditation and then hold our service. Please feel free to bring and place on the altar anything you’d like to bring to honor the new year, or to speak for your speechless heart at this moment.

Then in one week, on January 8, we’ll begin our practice period. More information on this will follow, and in the meantime, you might consider, What does my heart ask of me at this time? What do I wish to practice? to explore? to risk? What seems to be looking at me, as if into a mirror?

Happy New Year! May we give more than we thought we had to give, risk more than we thought we could dare, weep and laugh and simply be amazed in this world of inconceivable wonder.