Village Zendo Picnic Sunday, June 11 at Noon
These are the days the helicopter seeds come whirling and shimmering down. From a distance, it looks like the air has come to life—a flashing cloud of glint and wink. Pollen, too, has been creating this illusion, great gusts of it pushed from out of the trees, so that in the late afternoon light, you can see the wind filled with the vibrancy of things that one day will be—the great shining dust of existence. It is June, and all around us, everywhere, flower and leaf and weed—the lush wildness that is summer. To honor this explosion of new growth, the Bulletin is thrilled this month to run an excerpt from our own Marco Seiryu Wilkinson’s, Madder: A Memoir in Weeds—as well as a poem that explores the wilds of a community garden by editor-at-large, Nina Shuka Klippel.
Besides enjoying reading about it, how are we ourselves to appreciate the gift of summer and its profusion of all things sunny and green? Well, we can start by attending the upcoming Village Zendo Picnic, which will be held at Tribeca Park across from the Zendo on June 11. Of course, we don’t have to wait till then—we have this opportunity every day, a chance to appreciate this strange and riotous blooming, this life, all around us and within us.
With sunshine on my mind,
Image by Musho Rodney Alan Greenblat
Thursday, June 1: Dharma Talk by Tokuyu
Sunday, June 4: Online: Practice and Inquiry Circle with Joshin Roshi
In-Person: Body, Breath and Mind, an Intro to Zen
In Person: Music Jam, 3:30 pm
Thursday, June 8: Dharma Talk by Ryotan Roshi
Saturday, June 10: Zazenkai, with Dharma Talk by Jo An Sensei
Sunday, June 11: Dharma Talk by Shugo
Village Zendo Picnic, noon – 3 pm
Book Group, 5 pm
Thursday, June 15: Dharma Talk by Enkyo Roshi
Saturday, June 17: Forms of Emptiness—VZ Rituals, 3 pm
Sunday, June 18: Dharma Talk by Soren
Thursday, June 22: Fusatsu, with Precepts Talk by Shinryu Roshi
Sunday, June 25: Dharma Talk by Gessho
Tuesday, June 27: Special Guest: Shinso Karube of Soto School
Thursday, June 29: Dharma Talk by Eko
Ongoing Weekly Groups:
The Bolivian Sitting Group meets Saturday mornings, 8 am
Bolivia Zoom Meeting ID: 297 525 8394; Password: 1234
The People of Color Sitting Group meets Saturday mornings, 10:30 am
How to Meditate meets every Monday evening (except holidays) at 6:30 pm
Sorting Out Your Stuff meets Tuesdays at 10 am
Offerings from the Sangha
An Excerpt from Marco Seiryu Wilkinson’s, Madder: A Memoir in Weeds
Weeds, This Semblance
I am a gardener, this birthright from grandmother and mother and aunt passed down and diagonally to me. A stolen bit of history, inútil, this useless love. For much of my adult life I have worked my hands through plant leaves and plant roots; worked my mind through folklore and Latin names, soil and air; worked myself into this semblance of a garden, staving off the weeds.
But the more I garden the less I weed. Burdock’s root reaches too deep. Madder runs riot through the back places. Shepherd’s purse gives itself away to the wind heart- by heart- by heart-shaped seed. Instead I forage. I make friends with the excessive and out-of-place, this unkempt garden. My life, these weeds.
A weed is excessive, too good for its own or anyone else’s good. Virtuosic in its reach and fecundity. It exceeds expectations. An overachiever, it surprises and perplexes when so little was asked of it.
A weed is out of place. It cannot say how it got here, to this lonely spot. To say it has pilgrimed here would suppose intention and a singular trip carried out in one body to one place. Rather this travel has been going on endlessly across generations: a nomadic life. One day, out of places: here.
I am a gardener and find myself year after year less able to do what is necessary to keep up the semblance of a garden. Redbud seedlings invade and I think of the rough nodules of their roots fixing nitrogen in the soil. Spiderwort fountains out of unexpected places, but its flowers are the purple-blue of the deepest summer-twilight sky. Dandelions are not even weeds to me anymore, to my neighbor’s great disappointment, but bitter tonic in salads, rich sweetness in tea, acidy pickles in pasta, cheerful reminder to be optimistic even in desperate circumstances.
As I write this, my seventy-three-year-old mother, who has been visiting us for a month due to waning health, is outside vigorously, single-mindedly, furiously hacking at weeds coming up between the flagstones of our front walk. For her there is no question of order and its need, of the immorality of weeds or their excision. Some things must not be allowed to rise up. Though she is resolute, I can’t tell anymore if my life is choked with weeds or nothing but them. Whether to make a reckoning of it means clearing a little space of legibility or taking field notes on the little and the many that populate this space, this semblance, this life. I cannot tell, except by telling.
I forage this little life from here and there. Violet leaves from the lawn, sumac seeds from the highway shoulder, wild grapes off the chain-link fence. I dry summer’s linden flowers for the winter. I dig up and casket shovel-killer dock roots in alcohol, reinterred in my basement as medicine for the future. I ferment cloves of garlic in honey, preserving one and transforming both.
I do all these things because I want to remember. Remember that the little and the useless are what knit the visible world together. Remember that there is no such thing as absence, only ache.
I do this haphazardly, without efficiency or logic. Scrape the root to the bright core to stain this blank page. Scry meaning from the resulting patterns, worrying the contours between memory and fantasy and oblivion. Assemble bones into a body I’ve never seen before. Lay seeds where its heart might be.
I am a gardener who can no longer garden, so painfully in love am I with everything that might be. These thousands of gardens of the mind all live, overlaying each other in possibility. How to undo one for another? How to pluck out for the withering heap one life and not mourn? So much, dissembled, has confused the maps. So much is taken away from us, and so early.
This morning I sent a card to my eighty-seven-year-old father (seventeen years after the last one), directed to an address whose front door has never opened for me. I can peer down from space at the light-brown roof, the white concrete driveway, and a red sedan thanks to Google Maps, but I can’t fly down into the branches of the tree out front and search wordlessly through a window. There is an artificial pond behind the house, the heart of this little ring of suburban houses. A diffuse white explosion in the center must be an aerator spraying water into the air, but I can’t soar through prismatic space and get caught on a breeze to land and evaporate in an instant on the back of his papery, wrinkled, spotted hand, resting on the arm of his favorite back-patio armchair. Street View cameras mounted atop a car haven’t crawled along his street yet, so I can’t stare at his front door and wonder what knocking on it might be like.
I can’t tell you what I wrote because I didn’t have the forethought to transcribe it, and my daily missives to him vanish in my mind so quickly, like rain that falls over the desert and evaporates before hitting the ground. I cannot tell you if he received it, if desert rain even knows its fated trajectory or what ground even is. Dead ground, living ground: who can tell me what grows there, where rain never reaches?
Between a pathway razed meticulously and the void of the desert: a small patch of weeds, a garden, a semblance of a garden, a life.
A weed is of no use to one who has no use for it. If you let me, I will thatch my roof in phragmites, wattle my walls with buckthorn, plumb this hut with hollow knotweed stems, and pipe tunes through this ramshackle body until it shakes with fever or dance. I will burn up this uselessness—what my family used to call me my whole childhood, inútil
. I will burn up this uselessness to keep warm. I will burn up this uselessness to tell a story by, until the world around me catches fire. I will burn up this uselessness until this uselessness has had done with the useful.
Excerpted from Madder: A Memoir in Weeds
by Marco Wilkinson (Coffee House Press, 2021)
The book may be purchased here: https://coffeehousepress.org/products/madder
Saturday, June 10
8:30 am to 12:45 pm
Dharma Talk by Jo An Sensei
We invite you to participate in Village Zendo’s Zazenkai, a half-day retreat that will be held both online and in person. It will include ample periods of meditation, service, a Dharma Talk, and conclude with Open Sozan.
Zazenkai will be held in a hybrid format, in which both virtual and in-person participants will practice together. Please note that there is separate registration for online and in-person attendance.
REGISTER FOR ONLINE ZAZENKAI
REGISTER FOR IN-PERSON ZAZENKAI
Sunday, June 11, 2023
Noon to 3 pm
Village Zendo Picnic
Join us for a casual, potluck-style picnic on
Sunday, June 11, after our morning zazen and Dharma Talk.
We will be in Tribeca Park across from the Zendo
(8 Beach Street, New York, NY 10012)
From Noon to 3 pm.
Bring your family and friends and a bite to share!
Sunday, June 11 at 5 pm
Village Zendo Book Discussion
The next meeting of the VZ book discussion series will discuss Mathew Desmond's Poverty, by America. Several people at our Sunday meeting suggested it, and Enkyo Roshi had it immediately in hand, reflecting how much attention the book has been getting.
Below is a link to buy it at Greenlight Bookstore, an Ezra Klein podcast interview with the author, and more information about the book.
“Urgent and accessible . . . Its moral force is a gut punch.” — The New Yorker
The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages?
In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow.
Saturday June 17, Online: 3 – 4:30 pm
Forms of Emptiness
Village Zendo Rituals
What is Your Understanding?
with Bokushu Sensei
We have been exploring ritual together in a series of six workshops since October 2022. What is our understanding of ritual right now, and how has that evolved during the past nine months? What is the relationship between ritual and understanding? What is the role of understanding and of meaning in Zen practice itself?
Suggested Donation $25/per workshop. Go to Support Us
; note “Ritual Workshop”.
Soto School visit Tuesday, June 27
In-person and Online
Rev. Dokan Kojima
, a representative of SotoZen, Japan, and Rev. Shinsho Karube
of the SotoShu will visit with us for our regular Tuesday schedule.
No talk or special event. Please join us for zazen and an informal visit.
REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR OUR SUMMER SESSHIN
JULY 23 to AUGUST 6
A Poem by Nina Shuka Klippel
In the LaGuardia Place Community Garden
Bushes, branches mingle,
Tangling, flopping over each other
At crazy angles
An impenetrable jungle
Yet with vestiges
Of brick paths below,
Like remnants of a forgotten civilization.
I walk the dirt track at the jungle’s edge
Here a flowering bush at my shoulder
There a rose
Rising above the others
And at my ankles
Little flares of yellow petals.
Suddenly, at my right hand,
A splendid – what to call it?
Like a sunflower
But the opposite:
Edged in yellow
As bright as the sun
Before it sinks.
At the center,
A soft darkness
Sprinkled with silver lights
Like the night sky.
This our life.
We communicate in three places online:
our email list, a Facebook page, and a Groups.io list
where we share events and information among the whole
Sangha. Explore these various ways of staying connected and
up to date here: https://villagezendo.org/connect-with-us/
Editor: Taylor Plimpton
Editor-at-Large: Nina Shuka Klippel
Managing Editor/ Design & Production: Howard Thoresen
THERE IS STILL TIME TO DONATE TO
WORK FOR DHARMA DAY
In these trying times, the Village Zendo still relies on your support.
If you are able, please make a donation and check
"Work for Dharma Day" in the "Reason" box. Thank you!