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06. February 2024

Temple Reopening Reflections 2024

On January 7, 2024 Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple held our Reopening/Dedication Service, celebrating our recovery after the fire in July of 2022. Rev. Jerry Hirano officiated the service and invited our two Assistant Ministers, Rev. Kathy Chatterton and Rev. Anne Spencer to share their thoughts as the temple reopened.  

Temple President and 3 Buddhist Ministers in Formal Robes in front of a Buddhist Altar
Photo (left to right): Mike Iseri (Temple President) Rev. Anne Spencer, Rev. Jerry Hirano, Rev. Anne Spencer at the Hoonko & Grand Reopening Service on Jan 7 2024. 

In this blog, we are sharing summaries of Rev. Kathy's and Rev. Anne's reflections on the reopening and the history and the future of the temple. 

Rev. Kathy Chatterton: Our temple was officially dedicated on February 9, 1958, and officially rededicated on January 7, 2024. As a Sangha member who has been a part of the temple for over 60 years, I am very proud of our IOBT community for working together to bring the temple back to life. In my mind, the temple was on life support during the two years of COVID shutdown, and then the fire happened. Before the pandemic and fire, we were holding weekly services as usual, but I think that we were taking the temple for granted. After all, it had been around since the 1950's --we just assumed it would always be here when we wanted it to be in our lives.

When I heard the news of the fire, my heart sank. Suddenly, we were faced with the prospect that the temple was gone. The legacy that we received from the Issei and Nisei was destroyed. How would we share the Buddha Dharma? Then came the discovery that the Onaijin was spared fire damage. There was smoke damage, but the altar was still standing. We almost lost a treasure. Facing the possibility of the loss, I felt that our Issei and Nisei Founders were sending a message. We couldn’t take the temple for granted any longer. We had to work to keep our temple alive. Many months of demolition, cleaning, and rebuilding took place. When the Seattle Betsuin experienced their recent New Year’s Eve fire, I mentioned to a Seattle Sangha member that “impermanence is not for sissies.” We don’t like the idea of having to change, but we have to let go in order to move on.

I know that there are others, like me, that have many memories of the temple. Our grandfathers and fathers drove from all around the valley during the winter months to work on building the temple. We can picture the basement set up for Sunday School with the partitions rolled out, and the voices of children in their classes. Lessons on the life of the Buddha and the life of Shinran were being read. Sunday School teachers like Mary Nakamura, Sanami Nakano, Anne Nagaki, and Frank Adachi were doing their best to teach us kids about Buddhism. We enjoyed Hanamatsuri programs that went late into the night. We greeted Santa Claus for our holiday parties. We hid and hunted Easter eggs in the parking lot. We enjoyed crab feeds with samurai movies afterward. There were chow mein dinners, bazaars, and Japan Nite Obon Festivals held in the basement. A crowd worked all day and into the night to make kakimochi for bazaar sales. All of these memories are a part of our lives at this temple.

Two men confer at the front of a Buddhist temple     Photo: Temple President, Mike Iseri and Board Member, Howard Matsumura consult at the beginning of  the Hoonko/Reopening service.


Luckily, the fire didn’t completely take the temple from us. We were able to make needed improvements on the old bones of the temple building. The onaijin has been cleaned of smoke and dust and shines again. The pews have been re-upholstered, restained, and reconfigured. The hardwood floor of the onaijin has been uncovered and polished. The service on January 7, 2024 marked a milestone for us to move on to build new memories and to share our understanding of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism that is a part of our hearts. We cannot take our temple for granted. It is our home. We each are a part of moving on to keep Shin Buddhism relevant.

Rev. Anne Spencer: When I reflect on my path to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, I often think of this phrase from Shinran Shonin’s Sho Shin Ge: “But though the light of the sun is veiled by clouds and mists, Beneath the clouds and mists, there is brightness, not dark.”
When I first arrived at Idaho Oregon-Buddhist temple in October of 2002 I had been working for over a decade as a genetic counselor.  I worked in hospitals helping families who were learning that their pregnancy or child had a serious genetic diagnosis or heath concern.  This could be something like Down syndrome, spina bifida, a rare form of cancer,  a serious heart or kidney condition, or a brain malformation.  I gave families the results of their test and helped them cope with the news that would change the course of their life and the course of their child’s life.  I found this work to be meaningful and rewarding.  But some days it was hard, sad work and, after a decade, I was tired. The darkness of what some of my patients and their families faced was starting to overwhelm me. Looking back, I see that I was experiencing compassion fatigue and heading toward burn-out.  I had given away more of myself than I had to give. I needed light to pull me out of the darkness of grief and helplessness, but didn’t know where to look .
        Then I learned my college professor, Ron Takemoto, would be speaking at IOBT in September of 2002.   I decided to come see him speak. My goal was simply to see an old friend and mentor.  I wasn’t expecting anything special, beyond catching up with Prof. Takemoto. I knew the talk would be at a temple that primarily served Japanese-Americans and I worried a bit about feeling like an intruder.  But I was greeted warmly by the people here.  I was even invited to stay after the lecture for dinner at Far East.  After that the temple members kept inviting me back for more services and more meals.

Temple members and friends gather in the basement of the Idaho Oregon Buddhist Temple to Enjoy Sukiyaki Lunch

Photo: Sukiyaki Lunch in the basement social hall after the reopening service. 

I didn’t really understand Buddhism—but I kept thinking about the kindness of the people here.  I was aware of the things that had happened in WW2 and the difficulties and injustices that Japanese and Japanese Americans had faced, but the people I met at the temple didn’t seem bitter or angry about the past. In my visits to IOBT I heard a lot of stories, saw a lot of smiles, ate a lot of good food, and laughed a lot.  I also noticed the beauty of the temple and the dedication of the community that built it.

There was light here.  And I gradually realized that the Buddhist teachings and the community here were exactly what I was needing, what I was craving, to help me to heal from the pain and darkness of the work that I do.  The teachings and the community allowed me to put the grief and illness of my patients in perspective and helped me find beauty and connection even in the midst of grief.

 

Buddhist Community Gathers in the main hall of the temple.  Pews in front have few people. Pews in back are full

Photo: The Sangha gathers in the refurbished pews to participate in the Hoonko/Reopening Service. (As Rev. Kathy pointed out at the service, just like in the old days, people seem to prefer to sit in the back....)

So I decided to learn a little bit more about Buddhism.  I became a minister’s assistant.  Then I started taking classes.  Then I got ordained.  Then I got my Master’s degree.  And now, somehow, here I am, serving as an assistant minister. 

I was looking for light.   I found it IOBT. In this building with this community. This building and this community were here for me when I needed it most and I am grateful. 

I am so happy that we have chosen to repair, clean, and update the temple after the fire. I’m excited to see how lovely it is.

My hope is that the Dharma, this temple, this altar, and the IOBT Sangha will continue to offer people like me hope for many more years.  I hope that the brightness of the temple and the welcoming spirit of the sangha will help suffering people like me see that, "though the light of the sun is often veiled by clouds and mists, beneath the clouds and mists, there is indeed brightness, not dark.”  

This is a message of light in darkness is one that many people would benefit from hearing. 

02. January 2024

Happy New Year 2024: The Year of the Dragon

January 1, 2024

Happy New Year!

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

あけまして おめでとう 2024

Congratulations on the beginning of a new year!

Yesterday at our temple's New Year’s Eve service, we rang the kansho--the big  bell behind the altar--108  times. Everyone who attended in person was able to line up and ring the bell 4 times each. It is interesting to me how each person, using the same bell and mallet, manages to make a slightly different sound. Listening to the different tones and tempos we each create is a wonderful reminder of the uniqueness of each one of us.

Female Buddhist Minister hitting a large Japanese bell with a wooden Mallet

Image: Hitting the kansho bell on New Year's Eve. 

I think everyone, young and old alike, enjoyed getting to be a part of this once-a-year tradition.  According to Buddhist tradition, this bell ringing activity purifies the 108 bonno, our many attachments to the world of suffering. Ringing the bell cleared away the greed, anger, and ignorance we accumulated in 2023.  And as we rang the bell, we were reminded of the Infinite Wisdom & Compassion of Amida Buddha that accepts us just as we are—wise or foolish, pure or impure, generous or greedy.  The annual tradition of hitting the bell helps us reflect on our self-centeredness in the past year, and prepares us to face the new year with a clean slate.

So this morning, this new year, represents a fresh start.  Last night we rang away our defilements and today we begin the new year joyously and together as a sangha. 

2023 was the year of the Rabbit. The rabbit is easy-going and prefers to avoid conflict and unnecessary risks. So at the New Year’s Day service last year, at the beginning of  2023, I encouraged everyone to show patience, modesty, and kindness in all our relationships in order to reflect the spirit of the rabbit.

As you look back on 2023, how did you do?  Were you easy going? Were you kind and patient with the people in you life?  I hope so.  And I also hope that, even though the year of the rabbit is behind us, you continue to try to be kind and patient.  Kindness and patience, after all, are rarely bad choices no matter what year it is.

This morning, as we begin this new year together, we can look forward and consider how we would like to live our lives in the next 12 months. According to the Asian calendar 2024 is the year of the Dragon.  The Dragon is powerful and charismatic –it brings energy, creativity, and innovation. However, it can also be unpredictable, impulsive, and demanding. Quite a shift from the quiet, humble qualities of the rabbit of 2023!   

Lighted inflatable dragon balloon

As we begin the year of the dragon, I wanted to share 3 characteristics of the dragon that we can use to guide our lives through 2024.

1)     1) Dragons likes change.

 Since dragons like new things, 2024 might be a good time to change some old routines. In the spirit of Buddhist non-attachment, try to be open to new possibilities and learn from different perspectives. Don’t assume you are always right or that your way of doing things is the only correct way. You may even discover new talents or interests that you didn’t know you had. 

2)     2) Dragons can be demanding and assertive.

Although assertiveness can be a valuable trait, being too demanding can create unnecessary conflict with others who have different opinions or goals.  And it can interfere with harmony in our relationships. To avoid unnecessary conflict, it is important for us to remember to focus on  listening to others and respecting their views, even if we don’t agree with them. One of our goals in 2024 should be to work together to find common ground and solutions that benefit everyone.

3)    3) Dragons are large and powerful creatures who can be excessive and extravagant, leading to waste or overindulgence.

To counter this tendency toward excess in 2024 it will be wise to follow the middle path as taught by Shakyamuni Buddha.  Be careful with your spending, eating, drinking or working. Find a healthy balance between your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Take care of yourself and your environment and avoid unnecessary stress or harm.

The teachings of Shakaymuni Buddha emphasize the importance of finding the middle way, the path between extremes.  As we enter the year of the dragon, it seems like this approach would be a good one for all of us to take.  The extremes associated with the Dragon year remind us of the importance of the Buddha’s middle way. 

As we enter the year of the dragon, let us take a moment to remember the words of the "Pledge" written by Rev. Kojun Ohtani the current Gomonshu (head) of  Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha. 

Our Pledge  Breaking out of my shell I will share a warm smile and speak gentle words Just like the kind Buddha.  Not becoming lost in my greed, anger, and ignorance I shall think and act with an open-mind Just like the calm and peaceful Buddha  Not putting myself first I will share in the joy and sadness of others Just like the compassionate Buddha  Realizing the gift of life I have received I shall strive to live each day to its fullest Like the Buddha who tirelessly works to liberate all.

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

Rev. Anne Spencer

Assistant Minister, Idaho Oregon Buddhist Temple

Female Buddhist Priest in blue robes and pink gojo-gesa

11. December 2023

Sharing Light at the Winter Solstice

As we approach the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter, the sun is making fewer appearances through the clouds, we spend more time inside, and life is just a bit darker.  As sunlight gets scarcer, it is a great time to intentionally appreciate the limited light that we do have.  Many cultures have holidays, such  as Christmas, Diwali, Kwanza, and Chanukah that celebrate light.  And even non-religious people will put up extra decorative lights to brighten the darker days.  In our tradition of Buddhism, on December 8, we celebrate Bodhi day, as the day (2500 years ago) that Shakyamuni Buddha became “enLIGHTened,” breaking through the darkness of ignorance and understanding the true nature of reality.

>A House and Shrubbery covered in snow on a dark winter day

 

    So, as we approach these darker days, I think it’s  a good time to notice and appreciate the light we see around us AND then  find ways to share light with others.  For inspiration, I wanted to share a (slightly edited) story that Georgette I. Magnin of the White River Temple shared with me a couple months ago:

I love Costco, not just because I live in the birthplace of this global chain. Costco #1 is in Seattle's industrial district. I shop there and at other nearby locations. It's a crossroads of all kinds of people. I really admire that their food offerings includes so many cultures. I got my moon festival cakes there.

I went today to a different Costco to pick up a pre-ordered sheet cake for my Temple. I like to park a little distance away from the entrance. More open spaces, less congestion, and the extra walk is a plus. This Costco has a sloping parking lot.
As I trudged up the slope, I saw a woman using one foot to keep her cart from rolling away, trying to load her car, and watch the infant in the cart seat. I stopped and asked if I could hold her cart so she could devote her attention to loading. She at first demurred but accepted my help. Being freed from minding the cart, she could move around to get her purchases stowed with less strain and stretching.

 

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I told her why I stopped. It was because in her I could see what my parents did for my brother and me as we were growing up. I know, back then, my parents' efforts didn't occur to me. So I didn’t acknowledge them then. Since both my parents are late, I can't express my appreciation to them. Instead, I make an effort to notice parents or caregivers I happen to pass who might appreciate a little help, transforming my parent's past efforts into present-day acts of kindness.

It was nothing much: a few minutes time, passing groceries from cart to car, a little conversation. I know this incident made my day brighter. I hope the woman also got a boost.

    In this story, notice how the appreciation for the light of caring that had been offered by Georgette’s own parents was the inspiration for Georgette offering support and compassion with this mother at Costco. One of the best ways to offer genuine help to others is by cultivating our own sense of appreciation for what we have received.  Over the next few months, as the days get darker I encourage you to both look for the light you have received throughout your life and discover new and creative ways to share light with others.

 

Here is a little game you can play by yourself or with others to help you find some extra light in the darker days:

In Gassho, 

Rev. Anne Spencer

11. December 2023

Sharing Light at the Winter Solstice

As we approach the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter, the sun is making fewer appearances through the clouds, we spend more time inside, and life is just a bit darker.  As sunlight gets scarcer, it is a great time to intentionally appreciate the limited light that we do have.  Many cultures have holidays, such  as Christmas, Diwali, Kwanza, and Chanukah that celebrate light.  And even non-religious people will put up extra decorative lights to brighten the darker days.  In our tradition of Buddhism, on December 8, we celebrate Bodhi day, as the day (2500 years ago) that Shakyamuni Buddha became “enLIGHTened,” breaking through the darkness of ignorance and understanding the true nature of reality.

>A House and Shrubbery covered in snow on a dark winter day

 

    So, as we approach these darker days, I think it’s  a good time to notice and appreciate the light we see around us AND then  find ways to share light with others.  For inspiration, I wanted to share a (slightly edited) story that Georgette I. Magnin of the White River Temple shared with me a couple months ago:

I love Costco, not just because I live in the birthplace of this global chain. Costco #1 is in Seattle's industrial district. I shop there and at other nearby locations. It's a crossroads of all kinds of people. I really admire that their food offerings includes so many cultures. I got my moon festival cakes there.

I went today to a different Costco to pick up a pre-ordered sheet cake for my Temple. I like to park a little distance away from the entrance. More open spaces, less congestion, and the extra walk is a plus. This Costco has a sloping parking lot.
As I trudged up the slope, I saw a woman using one foot to keep her cart from rolling away, trying to load her car, and watch the infant in the cart seat. I stopped and asked if I could hold her cart so she could devote her attention to loading. She at first demurred but accepted my help. Being freed from minding the cart, she could move around to get her purchases stowed with less strain and stretching.

 

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I told her why I stopped. It was because in her I could see what my parents did for my brother and me as we were growing up. I know, back then, my parents' efforts didn't occur to me. So I didn’t acknowledge them then. Since both my parents are late, I can't express my appreciation to them. Instead, I make an effort to notice parents or caregivers I happen to pass who might appreciate a little help, transforming my parent's past efforts into present-day acts of kindness.

It was nothing much: a few minutes time, passing groceries from cart to car, a little conversation. I know this incident made my day brighter. I hope the woman also got a boost.

    In this story, notice how the appreciation for the light of caring that had been offered by Georgette’s own parents was the inspiration for Georgette offering support and compassion with this mother at Costco. One of the best ways to offer genuine help to others is by cultivating our own sense of appreciation for what we have received.  Over the next few months, as the days get darker I encourage you to both look for the light you have received throughout your life and discover new and creative ways to share light with others.

 

Here is a little game you can play by yourself or with others to help you find some extra light in the darker days:

In Gassho, 

Rev. Anne Spencer

21. November 2023

Our Refurbished Pews and the Value of Sitting Together

NOTE:  For our blog this month, we wanted to share Rev. Anne Spencer's Dharma Talk for the November 2023 Shotsuki (Monthly Memorial Service).  As we get ready to sit down with friends and family for Thanksgiving, Rev. Anne's words remind us of the importance of sitting down together with others. 

 

Temple Altar, Pews, and New Carpet

Image: Picture of the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist temple in Nov 2023 after the altar has been cleaned and the new carpet and refurbished pews put in place. 

 

Please put your palms together gassho as I read the English translation of three verses of Tsuicho no Uta, a song that we sang regularly in Japanese at many of our in person Shotsuki Monthly Memorial services in the past.

Though you have gone to Buddha land, my thoughts are on you.  As I long to see you, your face floats before my eyes as I intone the Buddha’s name.

Today, when spreading the mat to hear the teachings, I turn to you.  Come to us now at this gathering for friends who remain.

How joyous! The Compassion of the Buddha now fills our being.  As for us, we turn to you while intoning the Nembutsu.

Namo Amida Butsu

 

Isn’t it fun to watch our temple being put back together after the fire?  Today many of you are getting to experience having our pews back.   These are the same pews we had before the fire but with new upholstery.  And we made some changes to the configuration here in the front and on the sides to make it easier for people to get in and out and to move around. But these are not new pews, they are our pews—the ones that have been at the temple for decades.

 

Church Pews

Image: Our old pews with new springs, upholstery, and finish

And in honor of the return of the pews, I wanted share some thoughts on sitting.  Not just sitting, but sitting together, sitting and being together with our sangha.  Not running around and doing things, not coming and going, but sitting together, sharing time and space together. Genuinely appreciating being in the presence of those around us.

The second stanza of the gatha I just read says  “Today, when spreading the mat to hear the teachings, I turn to you.  Come to us now at this gathering for friends who remain.”   Traditionally, in Asia, Buddhists sat on the ground or the floor to hear the dharma.  But because the ground is dirty or hard, people would bring special mats, cushions, or carpets to sit on while they, surrounded by their community, listened to the Buddhist teachings.  Can’t you imagine people coming together, looking around for the friends, exchanging greetings, and then spreading out their mats near friends and family, to sit and listen to the Dharma surrounded by their loved ones?

It’s just like coming into the hondo, the main hall of the temple, and looking around in the pews for a friend or family member to sit with. It’s a happy feeling when you find them. There are smiles and waves and gestures to “come sit over here.”  Or “I saved you a spot.” And if you are a visitor, it is lovely when one of the regulars motions you over to a spot by them—it is so welcoming! Our pews, then, serve the same purpose as the mats referred to in the gatha.  The mats and the pews represent the intention to stay in one place for a while.  Sitting down shows a commitment of time and attention to the place the we are in and the people we are with.  Our sitting down demonstrates that we want to be here.

How many friendships have these pews seen over the years? Who have you sat with here? For those of you who have been coming for many decades, who do you remember your parents or grandparents sitting with?  How many people have comforted friends and family in these pews during funerals or difficult times? Or maybe celebrated a holiday or a wedding here? A LOT has happened in these pews over the years.

>

As I read the names on the shotsuki list, how many of you had memories of spending time with one or more of these people?  Do you remember sitting with them during service, or a meal afterwards, or at a family or community event?

I have a memory that I wanted to share today of Debbie Ogura, whose name is on our list this month.  I met Debbie on Sept 12, 2005. The Dalai Lama was speaking in Sun Valley Idaho. And Ruth and Hideo Harada invited both Debbie and me to come with them—I believe that they had 4 tickets and they wanted us to be their guests.  Several of the Buddhist groups in Idaho got together and chartered a bus up there. Ruth wanted Debbie and me to become friends and so she arranged for the 2 of us to share a seat on the bus.  Debbie and I sat together and talked the whole way up to Sun Valley and the whole we back—it was a great time and afterwards she and I planned to stay in touch. That was Sept 12 of 2005.  On Nov 30, 2005 Debbie died suddenly. It was shocking! And I was so grateful for that time we had together and so happy that we had had the drive to Sun Valley and back just sit together and become friends that day.  That was our only chance to be friends and I am so glad we took full advantage of our time together. 

Our Buddhist teachings tell us that everything is impermanent and death is a normal part of life. This teaching reminds us to appreciate each moment we have with each other and to not take our own life or the lives of others for granted. Getting to sit together with another person is a gift that we should appreciate whenever we have the chance. Inviting others to sit with us is something we can do to make the world a better place. The teachings also remind us that all things are interconnected and that our memories and connections with the deceased are  real and meaningful even after death.  As we sit in the temple, at home,  in coffee shop, or even on a bus we can continue to remember and appreciate the time we get to share with  others.  

And take a moment to appreciate the pews—oh the stories of friendship they could tell!

>

 

Rev. Anne Spencer,  Assistant Minister, Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple

29. September 2023

Remembering My Mother (by Rev. Anne)

My mother, Chistine (AKA "Aunt Chris" or “Ma”), died in January of 2022 at the age of 90. We were finally able to hold memorial service for her last month at the Presbyterian church in Washington that she had been a part of for more than 50 years. Ma was a kind and accepting person and, although she raised me Christian, she supported and encouraged me on my path to Buddhist ministry.  She attended the Buddhist temple with me whenever she had a chance and also came to several NW District Conventions. Ma loved meeting and talking with everyone.  One of my happy memories of one convention was how much she enjoyed listening to, and getting to chat with, Taitesu Unno—she never forgot him.  For my message this month I wanted to share the reflection I delivered at my mother’s memorial service.

Elderly woman sitting in camp chair

Photo: Ma loved to go camping!  This picture was taken on a camping trip to celebrate her 88th birthday

A Remembrance of Ma

Ma was born in 1931 in Petersburg Alaska. Just 17 months later, her father died in a trapping accident—he fell through the ice in December 1932. Ma told me she did not remember this. What she does remember is that the next summer when she was almost 2, her mother had to leave. As a newly-widowed mother of two little girls, her mom had to go back to work. She’d been a teacher before starting a family, and now she had to take continuing education classes to renew her teaching certificate so she could start teaching again. Taking these classes required her leaving her 2 pre-school-aged daughters with family in Alaska and traveling south by boat.

Right up until she died, Ma would tell me the story of her mother’s leaving—the story of watching her mother riding off on that boat. Ma remembers leaving the dock and running through the woods of Camp Island. She was trying to follow the boat, that boat that was taking her mother away from her. Whenever she told this story I could feel her desperation--her father was gone and now her mother was leaving her too.

Ma had made it quite a ways into the woods trying to get to the other side of the island--feeling alone in the world—when suddenly she was swooped up from behind by a loving older cousin who had headed out to find her when the family realized she was missing.

When my mom would tell me this story, she would always say, “I can still feel that feeling in my stomach, that feeling of surprise, that feeling of being swooped up out of nowhere.”

Ma stayed with her aunt and uncle and cousins that summer. She was loved and cared for. Her mom came back and the family started their new life together without a father.

When I think of my mom, I think of someone who is fearless. Perhaps this is because she had already done one of the scariest things a person could do—lose a parent—and she’d been OK. People had taken care of her. Life went on and it as a GOOD life.

It seemed that Ma lived her life with open-heartedness. She was kind and generous and not afraid to take risks. She could make friends with anyone, and was always starting conversations with people in grocery store check-out lines, much to my embarrassment as a teenager.

She was opinionated, as anyone who knew her could attest. But she typically gave those she disagreed with the benefit of the doubt, even when their actions or beliefs didn’t make sense to her.

She wanted the best for everyone and hated to see suffering of any kind. One of our struggles in dealing with her estate has been closing off relationships with the many dozens of charities she regularly gave to—and all the piles of solicitations that came in our household’s daily mail!

A large stack of mail laid out on a table

Photo:  A typical day's mail at my mom's house

She fed the birds and racoons on our back porch and she took care of stray cats. At one point we ended up with 23 cats! Realizing that the numbers were only going to increase if she didn’t do something, she began the process of trapping the cats and taking them into the vet in Montesano to get them “fixed.” She chose that particular vet because he would give her a bulk discount if she brought in 3 or more cats at a time! Those cats all came back home and Ma took care of them the rest of their lives.

Ma was a person who loved to be alive. Her plan had always been to live to 105, the age she claims one of her grandmother’s lived to. Alas, she only made it to 90, which was a disappointment—but she definitely appreciated every single day of those 90 years!


My mother was a great example of a person who lived life to the fullest.  Our Buddhist teachings tell us that our lives are each unique and unrepeatable.  I hope my reminiscence of my mother inspires you to appreciate every day, even the hard ones

In Gassho, 

Rev. Anne

 

Rev. Anne Spencer