May at Ancestral Heart Temple

May 28, 2024

Dear Sangha,

Garden season is in full swing at Ancestral Heart! It’s the time of year to plant seedlings in the ground and nurture them with water, earth, and sunlight. There’s always plenty of work to be done in the garden—baby lettuces and bok choy and beets to get in the ground; weeds to be plucked; beds to be prepared. Which means that each spring and summer, Ancestral Heart welcomes many visitors who are eager to help out.

My first visit to Ancestral Heart was during planting season. Each morning and afternoon, we carefully lifted beet seedlings and baby kale out of their germination trays and planted them in the earth, feeding them with compost and patting the soil gently around their roots. We planted potatoes and pulled up stubborn tangles of crabgrass. The practice, though perhaps the physical opposite of zazen, was just as meditative. Kneeling on the ground, I began to notice the smell of turned-over soil. The shiny backs of beetles and the soft wet bodies of worms. Being close to the earth, working with my hands, offered another opportunity to be fully present.

Our shika, Weishin, shared this photograph of garden gloves drying in the sun. When I look at it, I see all the hands that have put effort into taking care of our garden, which provides us with flowers and vegetables and greens. It makes me think about all that goes into nourishing and sustaining us, all the hands and beings and forces that feed us. And it reminds me of the meal chant, One Heart Grace, that we say before every formal meal:

As we make ready to eat this food
we remember with gratitude
the many people, tools, animals and plants,
air and water, sky and earth,
turned in the wheel of living and dying,
whose joyful exertion
provide our sustenance this day.

May we with the blessing of this food
join our hearts
to the one heart of the world
in awareness and love,
and may we together with everyone
realize the path of awakening,
and never stop making effort
for the benefit of others.

– Larissa P

This month, Ancestral Heart hosted our first community garden day, welcoming local sangha members both new and old to the temple grounds!

A view of the garden with the temple and the altar in the background.

Local sangha members starting work in the garden!

Sarah planting curly kale.

Two young sangha members helping to prepare a garden bed.

Kaishin smiling over the pea shoots.

Local sangha members planting rows of lettuce.

Sarah-sensei came to Millerton to lead a 3-day sesshin.

Everyone had a good time sitting zazen.

Our four ordinands, Camille, Ryan, Wesley, and Yoko, worked hard to sew their robes and were supported by those sitting zazen, as well as Guanyin.

The ordinands strike a pose after three days of sewing and sitting!

Wesley celebrated his birthday with a beautiful cake made by Kaishin…

Which we enjoyed during hosan, or day off!

In the morning, before zazen, you can watch the sun rise over the valley.

Until next month!