Just wanted to share an experience today:

I was practicing some meditation while taking a bath with Epsom Salts (Occupational Therapist pro tip: They are really great for sore muscles or joints and/or stress due to the heat + buoyancy) and finding my soft gaze staying on my son's Elmo and Cookie Monster bath loofahs. It reminded me of the wonderful zazenkai we had this past week with our Buddha helpers of Elmo and Stitch. Of course Elmo, I, the bathtub all the same Buddha-nature and I could feel a connection I cannot understand, but more than that I realized how much Elmo embodies alot of Buddha like qualities. Of course at this point I was following my thoughts rather than staying in zazen, but that happens too. Anyways, I thought about why my son and children everywhere love Elmo and other "cutesy" characters so much and it is more than the bright colors. I think Elmo is always friendly and kind and he never blames other people for when things go wrong or refuses to be anyone's friend. Kids, especially toddlers, are just learning what it means to have a friend, and really Elmo is a pretty awesome one. I am going to aspire to be as welcoming, compassionate, and non-judgmental as Elmo.

Thank you Jundo and Taigu for your teaching and example, putting children's toys on an altar and doing a funny dance during chants and the wealth of podcasts I'm still working thru. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and practice along with all of you here at the sangha.

Gassho and deep bows, Fred