Sunday, January 1, 2012

Growing a Community Around Me

The Zen Center is just a house now. The buildings have  been sold to an architect who is going to do something or another with them. There was a ceremony to de-sanctify the space a few weeks ago. I didn't attend. I haven't been there for many months..maybe February? It is quite amazing how fast and how totally splintered the old sangha become. We broke like a glass bowl.

I have lost the larger sangha that I used to have, but I have to say I have probably gained a better one over this year. Some of my new sangha members are part of the Zen center diaspora, the ones like me who just could not go back once the damage had been done. The heart of my new community is the Jizo Knitting Circle which continues and gets stronger and bigger all the time. We have transferred our association to the Great Vow Zen Center in Corbett, Oregon, the center founded by Jan Chozen Bays. We began as Zen practitioners knitting, but now only a few of us are Buddhists. We no longer talk about the center very much at all except to look back with a bit of nostalgia for time to time.

What has happened is that beginning with the seed friends form Jizo, my circle of friends has expanded and expanded and expanded. Knitting is probably the thing my new community has most in common, but not everyone that I think as part of my life fabric knits.

Still there is a lot of knitting. The most regular group for me meets on Sunday afternoon in downtown Salt Lake a coffee & tea shop called the Rose Establishment. When we first began, we tried a variety of venues around town, but ended up at the Rose as our permanent home. There is plenty of room. Most of us can get there quite easily. The food and drinks are really good and the folks that work there just love having us there. We had a great holiday party there in December, with a while elephant yarn exchange. We intend that this is the First Annual Holiday Yarn Exchange at the Rose.
Sometimes I join many of the same people on Friday mornings for knitting at Coffee Garden. But this group begins at 0600 before work, and I am NOT a morning person. It doesn't matter..if I do show up, I am always welcome by my knitting friends.

And then there is the taiko drumming withe the Kenshin Taiko Group. Only a few of the center refugees go to that, but I am a regular now and I love it. This takes place at the local Japanese Church of Christ. This amazes me. I have not done any music myself since grade school which hardly counts. I really am pretty musically impaired. But the teachers from Kenshin are unfazed. They teach me anyway, and I am learning. I can do 2 songs from memory quite well after only a few weeks, have had lessons in two others and am concentrating on a 5th one right now. I just love those big drums, and I do not want to miss the drumming classes at all.

Of course, I have my friends from work and Red ButteSundance is starting up again. We are a tight little group at the Rose Wagner...we even have our own Facebook page. I joined the Osher Institute and have signed up for some classes and events that will begin soon. I'm now a member of the university faculty club, but those meetings often conflict with drumming classes, and drumming is my priority. I'm thinking of doing Tai Chi classes at the Red Lotus School. I transferred my local Zen loyalty to the Boulder Mountain Zen Center although I don't attend as often as I should.

A few years ago when I was attending a series of women's group with Diane Musho Hamilton we were asked to set a personal goal to work on. I decided I was getting tired of moving from place to place all the time so my goal was to "pick a place to stay and to grow a community around me." Reflecting on this year, I realize that is exactly what I have done.

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