Here’s the scoop on this year’s New Year’s Eve ceremonies and celebrations at Panther Branch:
Yes, enough people have responded positively to our earlier stick-in-the-water inquiry to inspire us to jump in and make it happen again this year. As mentioned in the last email, this year’s ceremonies and celebrations will begin earlier, and will be a bit simpler and briefer than our usual NYE midnightmarathons:
Zazen will start at 7:30 pm, but tea will be available by 7 — so feel free to arrive early; it’s a convivial time! We’ll sit approx a couple of rounds with kinhin, and at some point a short talk will be given on the deeper significance of this Turning of the Year. We’ll then gather in Circle, to reflect on patterns we’d like to let go of, and what we’d like to invite in, in 2018.
Following Circle (somewhere around 9:45-10 pm) we’ll have chanting, and then an intermission of sorts, with tea and light refreshments. After the break we’ll do a bit more zazen, and then our traditional ceremonial noise-making through the center, to clear out old energies (of course), followed by delicate bell-ringing — to invite in fine new things with the New Year.
Renewing of the Precepts, or Jukai, comes next (a fairly short and highly significant ceremony) and finally, the New Year’s Prayer for All Beings, read in a candlelit circle by each person in turn till we finish. We then exit the zendo with candles in hand, to light up the dining room and share a meal of whatever food offerings people have brought.
Sure, sounds like a lot — but it really is simpler and briefer than usual (a bit). If people need to cut out earlier, during the break, that’s all right, too. But don’t be daunted: the evening moves along with surprising speed, and it is such a great way to walk into the New Year refreshed and renewed!
SO — if you’d like to dive in and haven’t yet responded, please do let us know. And please bring: a favorite noisemaker (ideally, something you can walk with; we do have extras here), a sweet-sounding bell if you have one (very few of those here), and of course some sort of food item — something you may feel like eating and sharing afterward, around 10:45 -11pm. And if you have some wonderful music to enhance the meal-gathering, please bring that too!
Questions or concerns? Feel free to call and if necessary to leave a message on our phones (828-645-8001) — we’ll get back to you soon. Wishing everyone a fine, relaxing and inspiring holiday season!