On 11 May Stonewater Zen held its first Hanamatsuri celebrations at its centre in Liverpool and at the London group. This marks a new chapter in the growth of the sangha and reflects the recognition that we are much more than a Zen sitting group but a real presence in the lives of sangha members and our families.
Hanamatsuri is the traditional spring flower festival and celebrates the birth of the Buddha. Offerings of flowers are made, sweet tea is poured over the baby Buddha, and spirit of Jizo, the patron and protector of children, is invoked in a special chant. In Liverpool families and friends joined us after a well attended morning sitting, and more than 30 people were present for the ceremony and the food and children’s games that followed.
We also used Hanamatsuri to look outwards to the wider world. Recently sangha member Dr Chris Huby from Oslo volunteered with a medical charity working with Syrian refugees in Lesbos. We decided to support this work and an auction of artwork donated by sangha members Emma Graham, Rosie Lewis and Keizan Roshi raised over £700 for medical help for refugees.