A Ceremony for Children Who Have Died
With Chris Fortin and Sarah Emerson
in the Zendo at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center
Sunday, October 29, 2017, 2 – 4:30 pm
In this afternoon event, people of all walks of life and loss gather to acknowledge and mourn those who have died. We first create handmade offerings in the Japanese Buddhist tradition of Jizo Boddhisattva, and then say goodbye in a ceremony of remembrance and letting go. Our time together ends with a procession to the garden, where we tie paper prayers on the memorial cherry tree with the intention of nurturing the beings who have died and the beings who continue to live.
This memorial event originates in the Japanese Buddhist tradition of honoring of Jizo Bodhisattva. One of the most beloved figures of Japanese Buddhism, Jizo statues are common on roadways, in parks and in cemeteries, where various items are placed on or near a statue as an offering and petition to Jizo to help guide and protect their loved ones as they make the passage from life into death.
Everyone is welcome who has experienced a loss, and friends and families have found it quite healing to attend together. You are welcome to bring children, and please know there are several periods of quiet time. It works best if at least two adults attend the event so one can attend to the children if they are not able or willing to participate in the quiet time. There is outdoor space to explore/enjoy if this is the case.
- Part 1 of our time together is for creating personal, unique fabric offerings to be used in the ceremony. We will provide fabric, scissors, needle, and thread. You are welcome to bring your own fabric as well. Red is the traditional color used for Jizo offerings, but not essential. Much of this time is spent in shared silence so we may each be with our own story and experience.
- Part 2 is a ceremony of dedication for those who have died. Everyone is invited to approach the altar, which is adorned with flowers and statues of various figures of compassion, including Jizo Bodhisattva, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Francis, angels, and the like. You can make an incense offering, place your fabric creation on or with a compassion figure, and speak aloud or silently communicate your wishes for the well being of your child.
- Part 3 is a silent group procession to the memorial garden, where we hand-tie paper prayers in a special cherry tree. There is time for lingering and enjoying the beauty of the garden, and the beach is a 20-minute walk away for those with the time and energy.
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