July 05, 2013 by Yugen
Yesterday we, along with the rest of the country, celebrated the 4th of July. I’ve never been a big fan of national holidays, primarily because I ‘ve never had a job where I got time off. Having worked mainly in the service industry prior to coming to the States, national holidays were either a day of work or a nuisance due to the fact that I had a regular scheduled day off but couldn’t take care of any business as everywhere was closed. In the UK we have much less inspirational and practical long weekend holidays: bank holidays. Some are tied in with religious festivals, such as Easter and Christmas (you guys are really missing out on Boxing Day on December 26th, btw), and a couple just fill in the gaps, such as the May bank holiday and the one in August. We certainly don’t celebrate anything as rousing and patriotic as Independence Day.
First thing in the morning, prior to dokusan in the second period of zazen, Tenshin Roshi unfurled the US flag that we have just for the occasion. The flag was promptly mounted in the flag holder outside the Buddha Hall where it flapped proudly in the wind for the remainder of the day. It seems a little strange for a place primarily run by Brits to celebrate the occasion of independence from the British, but the day was celebrated in earnest. Tenshin Roshi has been in the US longer than the time he spent growing up in the UK, and is a US citizen. Jokai and I are both permanent residents of the US. So in a way, it makes perfect sense to celebrate alongside the other Yokoji residents, both American and not, the country which we have adopted as our home.
I spent most of the month of June back home in England visiting family. When I flew back in to LAX, I asked a member staff which line I had to join to reenter the country: citizens or visitors. She said it was up to me, either one would be fine, which seemed unusually nonchalant for airport protocol. I went through the line for citizens with Melissa, my American partner. I showed my green card, feeling a little nervous as it was the first time I’d had to use it, and my experience with entering the country on prior occasions with a visa was often confusing to say the least. The officer looked at our documents, scanned my fingers and took my photo and asked a few questions before making a joke about the Loch Ness monster upon hearing we’d visited Inverness. He then welcomed us home. In Zen, we practice being at home in our own skins, and that to me is much more important than national allegiance, but right now, this is my home and I’m happy to be here and celebrate it.
We are facing the usual summer time inspections, for fire prevention and camp maintenance and procedure. The work crews are busy clearing grass and brush around the buildings as well as making sure everything is as it should be for the camp inspection on Wednesday. The fire inspectors came early this year and we hadn’t done all the work and failed the inspection. They will be back next weekend to make sure we have taken care of it, so all in all, it is a busy time at Yokoji.
Next Saturday is the Care for your Temple Day, so please come along if you can make it and join in with some work practice followed by a potluck and BBQ.
Nathan and Joseph, two of our new residents