Sweet story... gassho1
Kyonin, thank you so much for this! I was thinking the other day about things I do that could be considered service, and at the same time not wanting to post too much - I guess the point is that service and fellowship begin to fit seamlessly into our days and actions, where we don't have to talk about them anymore. There is a fellow at the supermarket in his 70s who bags groceries and corrals the carts in the parking lot - he has been around the block a few times. I make a point of stopping and speaking with him and complimenting him on his work. I commended him to the manager the other day - I really meant it. I hope I have his work ethic and attitude when I am in my 70s. He had shared with me that they were cutting his hours back since business had slowed down, and it would affect his food budget (he depends on this income to buy food). I also noticed the management are "churning" younger employees at lower hourly salaries and letting them go, or just reducing their hours after several months of service so they continually pay minimum wage salaries. My friend here, who has worked at this market 20 hours a week steadily for years, was looking at a reduction to ten-twelve hours. Interesting - after I complimented him to the manager (I told him he had a great work ethic, was great with customers, and motivated kids a quarter his age)..... This was about ten days ago. Yesterday, my friend told me that his hours will not be reduced. He was relieved. The world works in interesting ways. We greet one another in the parking lot by the shopping cart corral like long lost friends now.
I'm not claiming credit for this outcome - there are probably many others factors that influenced management's decision (correlation but not causation as they say) - but acts of caring and fellowship bear fruit or bring comfort in ways we cannot often predict or foresee.
Pass it forward, every day. Thank you all for helping me to live like a human being.
You were there for Otilia and she was also there for you.
Good thing you did, Yugen. gassho1 I also work in minimum wage service and this is touching. We don't really get much respect. :p
There are so many interactions per day that I have taken for granted, and with a little mindfulness and attention not only strip myself of my own assumptions and egotism, but meet and learn from wonderful people.
You are right Amelia - folks working in service jobs at or near minimum wage are taken for granted, often manipulated by employers, and verbally abused by customers.
I talked to my friend in the supermarket parking lot today. I ride my bike in to town and pass through there looking for him now. We talked about the fact that people often verbally trash him while he is pushing a stack of carts around - they tell at him to watch out, not dent their cars, etc. he is 72 years old and working in a hot sun (it's 88 here today). He just ignores them or goes back in the store. He's afraid if he says or does anything even remotely considered challenging, someone might pull a weapon on him. We are becoming really sensitive to road rage and the fact that you just don't know if someone has a pistol tucked into their trousers and in the heat of the moment...
Inside the market, the cashiers in the 14-items-or-fewer line are punished by management if they say anything to patrons who show up in their line with more than 14 items. It's one thing to have 16 or twenty, no big deal, but evidently folks show up with full carts. Cashiers have been fired for reminding people that express lines exist for a reason.
It's interesting - it seems that My practice is increasingly "out in the world"- I have a routine where I deliberately make time to talk with workers and let them know their service is appreciated. I am also doing Zazen "house calls!" There are two individuals whose homes I travel to for Zazen. I'm trying to organize them on G+. Instead of a doctor's bag for house calls, I have a zafu! This service project plants seeds which blossom in many directions!
I love the house calls idea Yugen - Have zafu will travel!
Thanks David - "house calls" do help to introduce people to Zazen and Zen Buddhism; ultimately I think participating in a "sangha environment" is a critical and necessary element of Zen practice. Given the distance in the countryside here in Maine the idea of sitting together on G+ is a viable one....
Thank you to Mongen, who will be handling the Zazenkai netcast this week at a slightly adjusted time.
So many wonderful efforts here!
Not meaningless at all; for I bet it meant quite a lot to that dear person. So wonderful Kyonin! gassho1Quote:
She could barely walk and she wasn't able to cross the street. I know it sounds cliche and meaningless, but it broke my heart.
I have tried, unsuccessfully, to volunteer at our local food bank. The problem is, they have so many volunteers that they have to schedule them. They had only one day/time available and that is when I take my boys to Karate. So my efforts have been on a small scale for now.
- I volunteered at our Karate school to help repaint the interior.
- My boys and I collected food for the food bank and delivered it.
- Picking up trash around our neighborhood as I walk it.
- As someone else has mentioned, I too have been trying to be more aware of people around me who might need a helping hand, an ear to listen, or simply a smile
I have found an ad in our paper this week, for a local organization that helps pregnant women get the things they need for themselves and their babies once they are born. They need supplies and volunteers, so I'm going to contact them and see about volunteering there.
Keep up the wonderful service efforts everyone. This is truly wonderful!
Thank you all for sharing your wonderful practices. Every kind action help us forge a better world. I'm sure our actions here have touched lives and made better communities.
I'm sorry for not posting as often as I'd liked, but as of late I have been juggling with several things in my hands. A little report is in order.
First of all, and as you already know, I teach English to a kid. This has been an ongoing activity for some years now, but word is starting to spread. I have some parents asking to teach their kids. I wish I could help more, but I have no room for more than 2 kids at once. I think this project might have to grow a little. Not sure how yet.
For a couple of days I went out to pick trash at the park where I run in the mornings. It was a nice activity, but got bad looks from people. Not sure why.
Lastly, here at work, we have been helping some nonprofits have a website. Again, this has been going for a year and it's been a nice little adventure so far.
And this might be worthless, but my smiling practice has been very interesting. Smile more, you get smiles back. And people seem to be comfortable with that. Maybe this world needs a little more smiles here and there.
I still have to work on the sitting groups. Haven't got time to get to that. Hope I will in the following weeks.
Thank you for sharing your stories. They are inspiring :)
The weekend camping excursion with the kids from the Tsunami/Fukushima area was lovely ... exhausting to keep up with so many young kids (and the 9 hour bus ride) ... but energizing. At that young age, as far as I can see, they are just kids with the same brightness and smiles and tears of any children (although we were told that some do have hidden pain we cannot see. For example, I was told not to mention cats and dogs too much because, in the temporary housing where many of the kids live they are not allowed pets, and also, many lost or had to abandon their pets when they fled their old houses). We had to be careful asking about parents, because some lost one or both.
But otherwise, it was a typical kids camp of sing-a-longs, mosquitoes, fireworks, ice cream and silliness. Can you spot me (hint ... I was in the Red Group) ...
Great pic, thanks for sharing. Sounds like a wonderful experience.
As for me, my older son and I did trash pickup on a local trail. I had thought to try something new, but he asked me when we were going and I wanted to encourage that. We ended up finding not much trash on our journey, which I can't really say is a bad thing (previous times have always found quite a bit). The true service was my son saying, "You know Dad. We really should do this other times, not just when Treeleaf tells you to." :)
Deep bows to my young but wise teacher.
This is just a wonderful activity and inspiring group of people. We do what we can, and as Dosho's son teaches us, the wonderful thing is that these activities become part of our everyday lives, and not just something we do every couple of months.
1) Maine Island Trail project:
I have gone out on two journeys thus far. The first was to Jewell Island, in the center of Casco Bay. The second trip, last Sunday, was to the Cuckolds and Damariscove. The Cuckolds are "on" the Trail, Damariscove is not. I sat zazen and chanted the Heart Sutra on each island. I have written notes, which I'd like to post to a blog soon. Stay tuned. The island cleanup season starts in August. I will be doing these day trips with my son.
2) I visit several elderly shut-ins, or in Maine, "hermits" - these are older men who either choose not to circulate or are limited due to health and mobility concerns. They are retired fishermen/lobstermen who live on the ocean and stare at the sea every day. They have amazing stories to share and are grateful for the companionship
3) I am spending time focusing on and engaging with hourly and salaried employees (cashiers, servers, store clerks, etc.) in a very basic way - making eye contact, expressing gratitude for their work and commitment, and in general honoring the dignity and hard work that accompanies jobs that often do not attract much respect from employers or customers.
Finally, I am trying very hard to be much less of an asshole and spare people my drama. Part of self-awareness I believe is learning how not to inflict myself on others with impatience, self importance, and irritability. Sparing the world my issues and realizing I am not that important is a public service endeavor in itself! :D
Note to self: don't forget to smile.
Thank you all for your commitment.
Very cool projects everyone.
Jundo, your camping trip with those children was amazing. I'm sure it meant the world to them. I'd love to see more programs like this here. One thing is certain, there's always room for more giving/serving.
Thank you all for sharing your projects.
I wanted to let you all know that my friend Tony, with whom I spent many hours drinking coffee, laughing, crying, drinking espresso and listening to stories of the sea, succumbed to ALS in the VA hospital in Togus, Maine recently. His wake and funeral were this last Saturday. When we write of our service projects, it is hard not to think of outcomes, goals, or improvements that we hope result form our contribution of time and effort. Maybe sometimes no matter what we do, there is not a happy ending. Sometimes people die. But in the time we spent together, we got to know one another, both our lives were enriched, and I was privileged to know a fine human being who was fiercely loyal to his family and friends, and whose life story was woven of the same fabric of human emotions we all share. This fabric gave his life texture and richness. My own practice on the coast of Maine, close to a seafaring community, has led me to see increasingly that fishermen/lobstermen are living out Zen practice on a daily basis. They may not know what it is called, but they live it out every time they go to sea when looking to the sky for signs of what is in store. No two days are the same, and the conditions at sea are constantly changing. Tony was a blue water fisherman for years before ALS came along, and he missed the sea tremendously. Largely because of Tony, and only because of his recommendation, I started working as a sternman on a lobster boat (which I continue to do periodically and wish I had started years ago). I learn much about work, life, and the ocean, where much of my existence is centered now. We laughed so hard we cried when he told me what to expect in terms of "new guy" rites of passage on the boats and it turns out that I love raw seafood so it drove folks crazy when I had no problem eating scallops right out of the shell. When I cut my hair short before ordaining he told me I looked like a cranky seventy-year old fisherman. I told him that I considered that a high compliment. He replied straight-faced that it wasn't meant as one......
After the funeral we all gathered at the coffee shop where he used to hold court in his motorized chariot and dared everyone to ditch the lattes for straight espresso. We all drank espresso courtesy of the proprietor in Tony's honor. It was a Maine funeral - some folks in suits, the fishermen in jeans and t-shirts. There is much honest and gritty dignity in seafaring communities. The only time these folks wear a suit is when they get married (not always) or are in a box doing the big sleep (invariably) and someone puts it on them. The only way they would wear a suit as they say, is over their dead body. And that's the only time I ever saw Tony in a suit.
Safe journeys my friend.
I am touched and my thoughts are with you and those who will miss your friend. For what it is worth, my daily Ikebana arrangement will be in memory of what sounds like a fine human being.
Tony was a very lucky man to have a friend like you. Heck, we all are blessed for having you around.
Impermanence is hard to swallow sometimes. But it's what gives life value and makes it precious. Thank you for sharing some words about him.
I will sit for him, his family and you.
Thank you for sharing Yugen. I tasted the esspresso.
Rest in peace Tony.
Thank you Yugen.
Heart Tony smiles.
That was a really great send off. Thank you for sharing Yugen. I will also sit for Tony's friends and family.
Also great to see a picture of you in the wild.