Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Change is Coming

The invitations have been sent and the replies counted. The cookies are baking and the vegetables have arrived, displaying their gorgeous colors and still carrying a bit of the earth they came from. Rare orchids have been brought in for display all around the building. People are wondering what to wear and going out shopping for gifts. All of this sounds like a party, but it's actually more significant than that. It is a Mountain Seat Ceremony, the ritual which marks the installation of a new Abbot or, as in this case, Abbess.

On Saturday (Feb. 12) the current Abbot of City Center, Ryushin Paul Haller, will step down after nine years of service in that role. For me he has been an inspirational leader, someone whose personal practice is a support and role model for everyone. Then, on Sunday, Kiku Christina Lehnherr will step up. As does any organization, Zen Center takes on the qualities of its leaders. There is a subtle shift in tone and feeling whenever someone takes up a new position. And in the intimacy of practice life, change can be deeply felt. The anticipation is building and the sense of carrying forward the tradition is heightened, as rehearsals of bells and drums have already begun.
Volunteers from the greater sangha have been arriving each day to offer their energy and knowledge - supporting the kitchen to serve up a feast, sweeping and cleaning, and applying fresh paint to the walls. It's a labor of love for all of us and I'm deeply grateful that so many can contribute at this joyful time.

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