A gentle nudge from one of my fellow sangha members sent me back to my last blog post, where I discovered that I had inadvertently misstated something.
In speaking of the dharma transmission process, I said that Sarita Tamayo-Moraga and Cynthia Kear will be carrying on Darlene Cohen's lineage, and leading Russian River Zendo. What I neglected to say is that Tony Patchell will continue to be the main priest at RRZ.
I can explain this egregious oversight quite simply: Tony is in my mind so continually, so constantly, that I sometimes forget I have to mention him. He is my dharma teacher, my "heart" teacher, the one I have connected to most strongly on this path. From the beginning, I knew he was the one who would guide me on this journey.
Over the past months, as we have all struggled with Darlene's progressive cancer, I have found myself grappling with how to provide support to Tony. He has given so much to me - now, it seems, it is time for me to give back to him. My basic urge is simply to be close to him. When our sangha meets, during dharma talks, I place my zafu next to his. It may sound silly - but that physical proximity seems one way of showing that I care. And since we are both e-mail junkies, we send messages back and forth regularly, just small notes of connection. Sometimes the notes are about what is going on. Sometimes they are about completely unrelated topics. Either way, they are a way to stay in touch.
Tony remains at the center of Russian River Zendo, with Darlene. And in Darlene's absence, it will be Tony who guides Sarita and Cynthia in their new roles.
And always, always, he remains my heart teacher. Even when I am not speaking his name.