On Friday, February 2, a fifth-grade class from Cedarwood Waldorf school came to do a field trip to DRZC to work in the orchard and also to spend some time in the zendo learning about Buddhism. Afterwards, their teacher sent an e-mail and attached photos.
Thank you all so much for yesterday’s visit to Dharma Rain. I’ve heard from several parents in the last 24 hours about how captivated their kiddos were by the Zen Center.
Here are two reflections from two of the parents who joined us:From Bob:
I was very interested to see how the kids would do with the work project. I don’t know the group very well yet, so it was hard to know what to expect. But I guess I wasn’t surprised, really, given what I do know from limited observation. The kids worked hard and actually got a lot accomplished in a relatively short time. I joked … that the job might involve clearing an amount of blackberries equivalent to one’s body weight, but, luckily, this wasn’t necessary.
The class was well-prepared to receive the orientation given inside the main meditation hall. They put effort into the short meditation session and provided thoughtful responses during the short discussion afterward. I am planning to ask [my daughter] some questions over the next days and weeks about her impressions of the place; I expect we will return to help with more projects there and we may investigate joining. … I am happy to see the class explore yet another fascinating corner of Portland.
We explored the acreage that not so long ago was strewn with construction site garbage. Some remaining piles of concrete are now covered with the most stunning green mosses, fitting well with the Japanese aesthetic of the property. We learned about the thousand new trees planted. We saw chickens, hummingbirds, olive trees and quince that is in bloom (its fresh branches adorning each altar). The children worked diligently – a high priority in the buddhist spiritual practice. Children’s hands were in the dirt, or pruning or hauling heavy buckets of mulch. Some kids mastered the pitchfork.
Finally, we spent time in the temple. Loveliest for me was watching our kids dialogue with the monk. She asked questions and children answered. Children were curious and she enlightened us. The teacher taught about the four noble truths and led us in a 10-minute meditation (you could have heard a pin drop). The children were engaged and mindful, showing they were reverent and present in the sacred space. I am so thankful the children had this opportunity to experience what it can feel like to notice self, be curious, listen in stillness. As the bus drove off, I considered how we grew in consciousness about what spiritual life can look like. Today we were near to goodness that gives life meaning.