Street Retreat Reflections, Heinz-Jürgen Metzger

Street Retreat Reflections, Heinz-Jürgen Metzger

This article is part of a series of articles written about a Holy Week 2011 Street Retreat, which took place in New York City. This retreat commemorated the 20th Anniversary of the first Zen Peacemakers street retreat, also in New York.  Zen Master Bernie Glassman invited several longtime students and companions to the retreat to become recognized as Senseis and Dharma Holders. Read bios and reflections of retreat participants. Read explanation of ceremony by Bernie Glassman. See more retreat pictures by Peter Cunningham.

Fourteen years ago, in 1997, Bernie invited me to a street-retreat in New York
City. After having been together with him in the retreat at Auschwitz, this
street-retreat was my second experience of practice outside a traditional zendo.
Both retreats helped me to see my true zendo, my true place of practice: our
green planet.

Fourteen years later, on Easter Holy Weekend, we met again at Tompkins Square
Park in the Lower East Side of New York City.  This time, it was a family
gathering:  some of us had already been previously together at the 1997 Street
Retreat; and the remaining I have been working with in the context of the
Peacemakers for the past fourteen years.

All of us participated in a ceremony of recognition with Bernie. For me, this
recognition has two aspects: Of course, Bernie recognized the work of each of
us, but he also recognized the work of us as a group, as a mandala of
Peacemakers.  How will this mandala actualize itself in the future? How will we
keep alive and continue to develop the vision, Bernie shared with us?

It’s not easy to be a visionary, it’s even harder to stay a visionary: There’s
the gap between vision and reality, year after year, year after year. – Thank
you, Bernie, for keeping your vision alive all the years!

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