It went like this: During the morning's informal sitting, you'd bow and leave the zendo, and go down to the kitchen. There, you'd take a pencil and paper and write down a few things that you're thankful for, and fold it up and put it in a big bowl.
During the ceremony, the bowl was passed around. Every member pulled out a random gatha, read it to themselves to understand it first, and then read it aloud. A lot of people were thankful for health, family, friends, for the sangha, and so on (a lot of people talked about the sangha, really, but that's not surprising when you're thinking about what you're thankful for in a zendo I guess.)
Anyhow, I wanted to do the same thing here but be a little more specific and a lot more long. I have a lot to be thankful for.
I'm thankful that that get to share my days and love with nyxie, and that our desires and dreams have so much in common and intersect so often, and that she took a huge chance and moved here with me two years ago and that she generally puts up with me.
I'm grateful that even with all the ups and downs we went through a year ago, I still get to talk to coffeechica nearly every day and sometimes even visit, and share our good news and help each other through rough times.
I'm grateful for all of my online friends, many of whom I've known longer than most of my in-person friends.
I'm grateful that Rasha is still strong and happy and snuggly and hungry even though his kidney's full of cysts, and I'm thankful that I've had his company for the last eleven years.
I'm grateful that I'm healthy and that my depression has been under control for almost a year now with absolutely no side effects from medication.
I'm grateful that I came out of my whole MBA experience with as few lasting effects as I did, and that it opened my eyes so clearly to what I was doing wrong and to what I didn't want.
I'm grateful that my parents are understanding of their weird son, all granola and Zen and living in the big city.
I'm grateful to be able to live in downtown Toronto, that our neighbourhood lets us live the kind of life we want to live, that we've found a place that we can really call "home" for now.
I'm grateful for all the wonderful food that nyxie makes for us, and to the labours that go into bringing the food to us.
I'm grateful to all of nyxie's clients and officemates and landlord who have helped her build a strong massage practice.
I'm grateful to everyone at FreshBooks for making me look forward to going to work in the morning, and especially to Mike and Levi for being so hands-off and supportive of my ideas for how to run my little slice of the company.
I'm grateful for Meran, my former cello teacher, and Kerri, my new one, who helping me get excited about playing music again.
I'm grateful to the family who is in the process of buying our car, for making it possible for us to go car-free, and to the family who bought my bass for making it possible for me to buy my own cello.
I'm grateful to Sensei Henderson and everyone at the Toronto Zen Centre for giving me a supportive environment in which to practice, and to Albert Low at the Montreal Zen Centre for giving me my first taste of Philip Kapleau's Zen, which made coming "back" to the Toronto Zen Centre so much easier, and to nyxie for joining me in it.
* One of the chants was the chanting of the lineage. It's a big list of names, tracing the transmission of the dharma from (before) the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (aka Shakyamuni), up to but not including the living teachers in the line. Here's an example of lineage. I hadn't done a lineage chant until today, and it's pretty neat to hear and participate in.
** A funny thing: Sometimes "incense offering" is a euphemism for "monetary donation"; sometimes it actually means an incense offering, where you sprinkle some powdered incense on the burner on the altar. Sometimes it's not clear which "incense offering" they're talking about. Today's was actual incense.