Our first ceremony in the new Sodo was a wet one.
On Friday, in anticipation of Sunday ceremonies, they tarped the roof, which was sheathed with plywood, but still had gaps that let the rain in. The tarp was supposed to keep the rain out. However, Saturday we had high winds most of the day. The sound of the tarps rattling and banging was intense – we could hear in two blocks away in the 85th house. When we tried to have a rehearsal in the Sodo, we could barely hear each other. Most of the tarps didn’t stay put through the wind, and of course after the wind finally calmed, it rained hard Saturday night.
Sunday morning there was standing water all through the Sodo. Work practice in the morning was doing our best to sweep out the water and re-establish the tarps on the roof. Part of the roof got covered. We set up altars as best we could, and went on with the ceremony.
Gyokuko presided (right). We didn’t do full bows, but standing bows, as the floor was still wet. We chanted the entire service, including dharanis, and eventually even did the procession during the Universal Gateway Chapter of the Lotus Sutra. We stood through the entire ceremony, as usual, and used buckets to mark the end of rows so we could figure out the route to process. At some point during all of that, it began to rain.
The Precentor stand (Kaishin precenting, left) turned out to be on the side of the room that wasn’t completely tarped, and everyone on that side basically was standing in the rain at that point. Pages of the chant booklets stuck together, making them hard to turn. By all reports, Gyokuko was right under a steady series of large drops of water. Genko had her shoes off at the edge of the tarp while doing mokugyo, and found them full of water at the end of the ceremony. You can see in the background that the taiko drum fortunately was protected by a tarp. Other instruments and people, however, were not. Still, we carried on.
Eventually, the rain let up, and we ended with the musical quatz, and abandoned the zendo to the children’s ceremony.
Here (above) they sing, inviting the gakis to come in.
After the gakis entered, and the kids did their best to instruct them in zendo etiquette, everyone was invited to feast on gaki food from the altar.
Jyoshin (right) as shuso made sure everything would work as well as it could.
In the evening, we set up the Segaki Toro ceremony outside the Sodo with a portable fireplace. The weather had cleared by then, and we didn’t even need the canopy we were figuring on for the altar. We did zazen in the Siskiyou House, and then processed through the Mekong Bistro parking lot to the path from 82nd on to the property.
The rest of the retreat was an adventure, but not as wet, as we tried to squeeze zazen, sanzen and meals into two small houses. It was a challenge, and we met the challenge head-on for a successful retreat.
Thanks to Ken Barker for these photos of the ceremony.