Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Still Busy -- May 23

Well, I did manage to get back from retreat last Sunday, and it's just been another busy week. The retreat was good. The anxiety I felt over working in the kitchen kicked up the first afternoon, and I almost panicked, just barely keeping it together. MrK, the tenzo, kindly put me to cleaning up things and dealt with the problem on his own. I felt awful, and cried through one afternoon.

But after that, I was able to calm down and things went better. In fact, he found things for me to do that I felt confident about -- pie crust, bread, biscuits, dishwashing, cookies, and a few other things. And it all worked out well.

It felt strange to be on retreat and not only not be leading chants, but in fact not even being in the zendo during two of the four services of the day because I was in the kitchen instead. A very different experience. Every retreat has been a different experience for me. I'm learning just to expect that this will be the case.

Since I've been back there has been a lot going on, both externally and internally. I got a letter from the Department of Corrections scheduling me for a volunteer training. Along with that, I had to do self-study with a booklet that is online, print out the last 15 pages of self-test and fill those out, and sent those in yesterday. The training will be June 5 in Salem. After that, at some point I will do a tour of the facility I am volunteering at (Coffee Creek Correctional Facility -- CCCF), and somewhere in there get my own ID badge. This should allow me to go to the prison by myself as needed.

I was planning to go this evening, but the person who was scheduled to do it has come down sick, and so we're cancelling the group. Once I get my card, I could jump in for others who have things come up like that.

I saw an e-mail about a chaplancy study program being offered through Upaya Zen Center (where I went in 2003 for a weekend). It looks wonderful, and I think I could probably fold it in to my training here. But it costs $5400, and they don't offer scholarships. With no income, and my money running out, this is simply not an option. Sigh. Oh, well.

I've pretty much given up on going to China next year with our group as well. So, yes, my money is almost gone. I need to sell my car quickly, and hope I'll get enough money to pay for some of what I've put out to maintain it this last few years. I need to quit paying insurance, gas, etc. I use it very little. But selling it is work in itself, and not work I'm that interested in.

Some of the work this week has been a result of the retreat -- laundering linens and washing bowls and utensils from oryoki sets, not to mention my own laundry and bowls. I like to put our sets away clean and ready to go for the next time we need them rather than trying to assemble them right beforehand when time is tight and there are a million things to do at the last minute.

I've been doing more and more as jisha, sometimes kind of impromptu. Jisha is a word meaning something like the one who carries incense, and that is the hallmark of what a jisha does during a ceremony. But it also extends to meaning a teacher's assistant. Our teachers are a bit different from most Zen teachers in that they don't like the idea of personal assistants, and rarely tolerate much in the way of personal attending (i.e., we don't tend to bring them tea on a set schedule, etc.). I'm getting more comfortable with the choreography of how a jisha moves during a ceremony, and how to hold incense. Still forgetting at least one thing every time, and sometimes making what I consider spectacular mistakes (which most other people who are not jishas don't notice).

This week I suddenly had to oversee sanzen (teacher interview), which I had not been trained on. My teacher knew this, and didn't expect me to do the extra setup and bows required. That afternoon, I had Jyoshin teach me how to deal with sanzen, and hopefully now I will be able to do this. I've had to do at least one Saturday morning, and will also do tomorrow morning because the jisha scheduled for that has a conflict and asked whether I would do it. The drawback of being someone who lives here is that I'm always available and easy to tap. The advantage to that is that I get more practice than many others.

Since I've been back this week I've had very little time to spend in the kitchen here. I want to do more of that, but really am just trying to catch up on everything. We're back into newsletter production, and I've had a fair amount of that to do. Had a meeting yesterday that I had to type up minutes from. Put together a flyer for an August event today. Next will have to get it onto the web. Etc.


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