April at Ancestral Heart Temple

April 26, 2024

The role of fukudo was the first role in the doan-ryo I was trained in last fall. During service, the fukudo keeps time on the mokugyo, sounding a beat so that everyone chants in harmony and unison. And fifteen minutes before zazen starts, the fukudo is the one to strike the han and call everyone to the zendo.

At Ancestral Heart, zazen starts early—in the winter, before sunrise. For many weeks after I was first trained as fukudo, I was assigned the role in order to learn it well. For months, the han began in nearly total darkness—I’d take the lantern with me outside, to read the seconds on the clock. I’d take a jacket with me, too. When you’re the fukudo, you feel the weather: the rain when it’s raining, the wind when it’s blowing. Time passed; I received training for other roles, and suddenly weeks went by before I was fukudo again.

This time, in mid-April, the sky was perceptibly lighter. Bright enough to read the han by, and bright enough to see my hand. The first morning, I brought the lantern out with me anyway and kept it on. The second day, I turned it off. And I could still see. That’s how I know spring is here, how I can feel it in my body: the sun rises earlier and earlier, as if rising to meet us and our practice. Another sign of spring: on the altar at Ancestral Heart, we have fresh flowers again.

—Larissa P

The residents and local sangha at Ancestral Heart kicked off our garden planting season with a Garden Opening Ceremony!

The garden altar with offerings and incense.

Kidō using the broadfork to loosen and aerate the soil before planting seedlings.

Delicious curly kale seedlings!

Rachel preparing a bed to be planted.

Rengen and Kaishin take a short break during a work day in the garden.

We gathered to watch the almost-total solar eclipse on the porch of Ancestral Heart.

Some intrepid residents also trekked up north to see totality!

With the opening of our new space in Millerton, there have been many more opportunities to share in practice with our local sangha and delight in the spring blooms. Until next month!