As I stood on the peace picket line yesterday, a young man and his female companion stopped in front of me. The young man bowed, took hold of my raksu and scanned the back of it, and then said, "I have one of these too."
He turned out to have been a member of the Zen Peacemakers organization, the brainchild of Bernie Glassman, a Zen teacher. We did a bit of Zen gossip before he told me that Zen Peacemakers had closed its doors in Montague, Mass. Bernie had moved to nearby Greenfield to continue his efforts on a less-grandiose scale.
I was at Zen Peacemakers for an opening celebration in 2005 -- an immaculately refurbished farm setting with a polished central hall and a raft of ideas hanging in the air. It struck me at the time as a bit unfocused, but Bernie had a way of dreaming big and getting others to dream with him. And now it's closed. I am not sure when it happened ... perhaps as many as two years ago. Although I had no inclination to visit or involve myself in its efforts, I will miss Zen Peacemakers as a part of my local tapestry of understanding.
The young man said he kept up his practice, but did not visit Bernie any longer. Now, when he wanted to go to sesshin or an extended Zen retreat, he went to Rochester, N.Y.