Dear Members and Friends of Guadalupe Buddhist Church,
I hope this letter finds you safe, healthy, and well. Letter writing has become a thing of the past. Instead of an article, I decided to write more of a personal note to you all. During the time of Shinran and Rennyo Shonin, letters were used as a form of communication. They wrote letters to express the importance of the teachings and Nembutsu.
Travel was very difficult for Shinran and Rennyo Shonin. There were no planes, trains, or automobiles to deliver them to speaking engagements. There were many followers who lived in very remote areas of Japan and Shinran and Rennyo Shonin would have to travel on foot. They relied on letters to transmit the Dharma. Literacy, time, and travel were problems for some of the followers, yet these followers still had a desire to hear and listen to the Dharma. These letters were read out loud to the Sangha.
These are troubling times for all of us. Our eyes and ears are being flooded with news of the virus and its results. We are not hearing any good news. We practice safe social distancing, wear masks, wash our hands often, and shelter in place, yet the news is sad. Family members stand outside the front door, but cannot enter because they do not know if they may expose us. These days are heavy with uncertainty and hardships. Yet, we have our Nembutsu to share. We share our thanks and gratitude to those who are always with us. There is always time for Namu Amida Butsu.
No one has told us there are restrictions to go out in the yard and breathe the fresh air. We can still take walks while still practicing all the precautions asked of us. We can still appreciate the flowers and nature. I am fortunate, for outside the front door of the house the wisteria is in full bloom. I can watch the hummingbirds flitting around for the sweetness of the flower and the bees that are gathering the nectar. The ground squirrels are still playing chase with each other and the deer continue to come down to “snack” on the bushes and grass. My cat, Shunki is still running around the house and causing trouble. I am so grateful and thankful for life around me.
I keep thinking about all the unknown people who are sacrificing their time and health, just for us. Our children’s teachers are still working to ensure that our children maintain their level of study; they have developed a new curriculum and are finding innovative ways to help those who are not fortunate to have computer access. They are not giving up on our children’s education.
For a long time we have taken granted of the time and patience that teachers spend with our children and what they do for them, as we make a living. We can think of them as surrogate parents during the hours we are at work. We are now experiencing what it is to “walk in their shoes” during our shelter in place. Now we have become the educators with the guidance of the teachers. We share our Nembutsu with wholehearted appreciation and our grateful thanks.
There are also the doctors and nurses who are putting their health second to ours. We share our Nembutsu with scientists and researchers who are trying so hard to find a cure for this virus. The police, emergency responders and fire department are still working to keep us safe. We share our thanks and we share Namu Amida Butsu to those people who continue to serve the public. We share our thanks and appreciation for their dedication and commitment.
It is now our time to practice what the teachings convey to us. We practice patience, thoughtfulness and compassion to those who share their time for us. We share a gentleness and kindness to those who keep shelves full or sitting behind the glass at gas stations or banks. “Otsukaresama desu” means more than thank you for a job well done. It is a feeling emanating from deep within our hearts. We value the work of each member of the community and the job they provide. They continue to work for the good of the community. Although our smiles are hidden behind masks, we can still say “thank you”.
Eventually we will see each other. With the guidance and direction of Nembutsu and leaders, we will survive this difficult time. I miss seeing your smiles and hearing your voice, but we must practice patience. Please accept my “virtual” hug and I will be calling those that I have phone numbers. Ki o tsukete (take care), stay healthy and be well. Thank you for your continuous support and well wishes. GBC Buddhist Church still stands and we await until we can meet again,
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano