NOTE: A minor modification in our schedule. We’ll ring the bell at 7pm, not 715pm, Tuesday nights, in the Sanctuary of the UUCEP, 4475 Byron in Central/NE El Paso. The sanctuary has a big hand-crafted double-door. It's very welcoming. I’ll be arriving 30 minutes early to set up, moving chairs and arranging our zafus, zabutons and altar. All are welcome to come early and help.
Last Tuesday night our sangha had our first services in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso. Janet Kincaid, the president of the UUCEP Board, served as our welcoming host. She gave me a key, helped us set up and showed us all the little odds and ends of our new surroundings so that we will feel welcome in our new practice hall. She was very generous and helpful. Four of us were in attendance, and others have said the time is right for them. We expect attendance to grow. Janet has said members of the UUCEP may be interested. Herself included.
The sanctuary is a big room made cozy by the hand-labor and love that the UUCEP community put into creating it back in the 70s. We are honored to sit there, but it will take some getting used to. The new space, the new time. It throws a little chaos into our lives and into our practice. That’s good. It’s not supposed to be easy. The acoustics are very different. The room swallows up the sound so I’m glad we have the big bell and our big mukugyo, the wooden fish, its eyes always open, as we beat upon it, chanting the Heart Sutra—form is emptiness, emptiness form. And we’ll need to be more attentive. Chairs have to be moved before services, and they need to be returned afterwards. We’ll need to be responsible for the altar and the flowers and the candles and all the chores of our service that John Fortunato did for us in offering us his home for our practice. I am personally thankful for his work for our sangha. And now we move on.
Gone, gone, gone to the other world, having never left.
That’s what the Heart Sutra says. But how does that happen?
The bell and the fish and the flowers and the candle and the zafus and our voices and our silence. Especially our silence. Being upright in our silence.
So we sit down and shut up.