The Swirling of Fall

October 5, 2022

From the BZC October Newsletter, by Sarah and Charlie:

Dear Sangha,

We are writing this right around the fall equinox, in this time of what feels like a rapid and dramatic change from summer into fall.

In the wondrous Qigong workshop a few weeks ago, Sally Chang taught about how the autumn is a time of acclimation, the adjusting of all things—from our bodies to the environment around us—from the outward-facing energy of summer, to the restoration of drawing inward that winter offers. And how this whole season is about adjusting to that change—gradually acclimating to a different pace, slowing down enough to allow ourselves time, rest and energy to integrate all that is changing. Sally also noted how, when we can draw out our perspective, and view these transitional seasons through a wider aperture, we can see how they are essential to growth, transformation, and ultimately renewal. But when we are in the midst of them, what can be most present is resistance to change and the loss that comes with it, and often some amount of disorientation and even awkwardness as we negotiate all that’s shifting.

We see this for our family, as we continue to find our footing after moving to Brooklyn from California in June. How right alongside the joy and excitement of new beginnings, is the poignancy of loss of what was known and familiar. We see this in the BZC sangha in the city, as there’s an ongoing negotiation of how to come back together in person after the dislocation of social distancing—with continually shifting health safety protocols, in a new shared space at Christ Church, with us as two new teachers still meeting people and (sometimes awkwardly!) figuring out how to integrate into the community. And we can also see this in society around us—collectively finding our footing after the unprecedented losses and impacts of a multiyear pandemic. A natural response to all of this can be a totally understandable longing to feel more settled, to feel surer about what’s next…to move this process of uncertainty along, please!

We want to share how, on all levels- from the familial to the societal—we are so grateful to lean into the deep resources of the Zen tradition that remind us: “not knowing is most intimate,” and “Here is the place, here the way unfolds.” We are so grateful to be a part of the BZC sangha that has such deep roots of generosity—where we can reach across to stabilize, encourage and support one another to stay upright and patient, right here in the midst of the discomfort, the disorientation, the growing pains, the awkwardness. That this is a key task of this season in sangha.

And that once we feel that net of stability, encouragement and support that is refuge in Sangha, we can show up fully and vulnerably right here in the swirling. And with joy and humility, maybe even see what’s beautiful in this particular time: light changing, leaves tumbling off the branches, bright clear wind and cleansing rain waking us up to the gifts of our lives together in the Dharma.

With deep appreciation and warm bows,

Sarah & Charlie
Dharma teachers at Brooklyn Zen Center

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