Sunday, March 6, 2016

Family Weekend: How to Train your Dragon


All families are invited to join the Ryumonji Zen Monastery for a weekend of fun with Dragons. Our theme this year is “How to Train your Dragon.” The event will start on Saturday April 23th at 5:30pm and ends Sunday April 24th around 1:00pm. This will be a mini sesshin. A sesshin is a structured retreat of multiple periods of zazen, an observation of silence. Children of all ages are welcome. The weekend will be filled with good food and activities for all to enjoy. Activities include: family walking meditation, crafts, stories, and a bonfire.

Where: Ryumonji Zen Monastery
When: April 23th-24th
For questions contact: Shoken-san
(563) 546-1309 /

Limited overnight housing is available on Saturday, or families can come just for Sunday.
Please register at Ryumonji, go to practice and you will find event registration. Please view sesshin guidelines. Sesshin will be flexible to meet the needs of the children.

There are no fees for participation. Free-will dana offerings are customarily offered.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Black Lives Matter

"Black Lives Matter" just means that black lives matter. That's all. It doesn't mean that other lives don't matter. Or that other people matter less. It also doesn't mean that black people are more morally superior than other people. Black Lives Matter provides the much needed reminder that black lives matter, too. African Americans are killed at disproportionately higher rates by police and violence. Plus the images of African Americans portrayed throughout society are overly negatively. At the same time, European American are portrayed more positively. TV shows, movies, music, magazines, comic books, etc. already reinforce the idea that White Lives Matter. Racial injustice within many systems such as schools, churches, companies, police, etc. also reinforces the idea that White Lives Matter. We don't need the reminder that White Lives Matter. White privilege is built into our society as a whole - even when individual exceptions are taken into account. So our society needs the reminder that Black Lives Matter. While it's true that All Lives Matter, it's also true that African Americans face discrimination and injustice that desperately need to be addressed. Until the unique challenges that harm the African American community are addressed, then the Black Lives Matter movement will continue to be needed as a reminder that black lives (and dignity) really do matter. It's not just semantics. It's about systems (and minds) that need to be changed for the betterment of the future. And that future will, in fact, be better for all lives.

Here's some steps for action:

(1) Pray.
(2) Talk with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.
(3) Put up a sign.
(4) Learn more and join the movement.  
(5) Bring the movement into prayers and worship services.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Prayer for the Tragedy at Coral Ridge Mall

Loving God, darkness has covered our community, and thick darkness has descended upon the people. Tragedy has clouded out the light.

Shots rang out at the mall in Coralville, Iowa. A young woman was senselessly murdered.

In this time of darkness may your resilient light shine forth.

May your light shine on the family and friends of Andrea Farrington. After the darkness of continual harassment and threats against her, the actual murder of Andrea must be filling those who love her with a cloudy midnight of immense grief and righteous anger. They need your light, Loving God. Please pour it forth.

May your light shine on the people who were gathered at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville. After ending his shift at the mall as a security guard, a man retrieved a gun from his home and returned to the crowded food court area, where he purposefully tracked down Andrea and fatally shot her in the back. This must confound their loved ones and the survivors in ways we can only imagine. So, we do what we can, Loving God, and pray for your light to make its way in their lives – and in the emotional recovery of the witnesses.

May your light shine on the family and friends of all of those who were affected or shaken by this act of violence. This tragedy has sent ripples of grief and anger through all of these people, as they ask the questions anyone would ask. Why? Why her? Why a young woman? Why now? Why like this? Why? This is a moment where there is a “dark night of the soul” for many people. So, we pray that you hold them in your light. Please bless all those around them, not with platitudes, but with comforting words and healing acts. And in the weeks and months ahead, bless them with a passion for seeking justice and building a more peaceful world.

May your light shine on all of us who are saddened and sickened by the news of this act of violence. We suffer from afar as we hear about this on our TVs, and read about it on our computers and in our newspapers. In our own work of processing this event, Holy God, bless us with enough hope to build a better world, enough grace to respect diversity, and enough frustration to reject acts and symbols of violence in our world.

May your light shine on the murderer, Alexander Kozak, whose darkness overcame his light. Perhaps he has a long history of perverse decision making. Perhaps his family history was painful. Perhaps his social life was conflictual. Perhaps his mental health was compromised. Perhaps his community of support was of little support. Whatever darkness overtook this man, may there be a way for light to peek through into his life.

May your light shine on the friends and family of the murderer – who may be asking questions for which there are no easy answers. May their sadness, anger, guilt, and shame be accepted by those around them, as they process this situation. And someday, may they be able to see and know that light does shine in the darkness - and the darkness will not overcome it.

And may your light shine on the media that fills our screens with violence, sexism, and rage. There’s no such thing as a lone gunman – and sometimes the negativity on the airwaves is enough to tip the balance of an already imbalanced person. Yet the people who fill the airways with this kind of darkness need light, too. So, Loving God, through your light, may they see the damage that their words do to our world. And may their hearts be softened, their words be tempered, and their styles of entertainment be changed, so that their positions in the media can be used in the service of fostering a more peaceful, equitable, and loving world.

Even in the midst of this tragedy, may we hold onto the hope that your light will continue to shine forth in the darkness until we are able to boldly proclaim, with the author of Isaiah, “Arise, shine; for our light has come, and the glory of God has risen within us.” Amen.

This prayer is based on Isaiah 60:1-2.