The Zen Center of Syracuse is a tranquil and serene refuge in the sometimes ugly nature of this city; Syracuse sometimes seems perpetually grey, perpetually snowy, perpetually loud and obnoxious, it is a town that hates itself with an ugly vehemence. The Forman House is an historic structure, with yoga studio and art studio in the attic, a lending library, and an elegantly simplistic sitting hall in its own building. In the warmer weather months, I love to sit in the Zendo when the rain is falling, all the windows wide open and the breeze blowing through the trees, the sirens pass, loud music blares, tires squeal and children play on the playground across from the hideously straightened ditch which is now Limestone Creek, but on the mat it all passes by with each inhalation and each exhalation, we sit patiently waiting for the thoughts and sirens to pass us by. After each 20 minute sitting we get up and on days when the rain is not falling we walk through the woodland garden that meanders through the woods, stone buddha’s patiently waiting to take their place in line, birds singing, dragonflys, butterflies, mosquitoes, deer, and people hands folded on their bellies.
This weekend I had the Zen Center offered a workshop on making Jizo with artist Tom Matsuda. A Jizo is a buddhisatva who is friend and protector to women, children and travelers. I attended the workshop which involved a short period of sitting, an opportunity to view both the sacred and contemporary art of the Sensei as well as his guidance in making our own Jizo for about 2 and a half hours. It was so wonderful to spend a stormy, cold and snowy day in the warm comfort in the peaceful company of so many artists, whether they are artists by trade, or merely artists in their hearts.