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Rudy Redford (2015 – 2023)

· Articles & Essays, Photos, Sangha News

Rudy, the Monastery’s beloved, orange tabby, left his body on Thursday, May 31st, following a brief illness. He had undergone a number of tests over the past several months to determine what might have caused an increasing drop in energy, focus and acuity. Following an MRI exam at the Brewster Veterinary Hospital, it was determined that a sizable brain tumor had been causing various neurological impairments that were increasingly diminishing Rudy’s quality of life. As surgery was deemed too risky, Rudy’s transition was aided by the caring staff at Brewster Veterinary, with Mn. Yukon and resident Robert Pile, a registered nurse, in attendance. He was 8. (48 in cat years.)

Waking up from a nap in 2017.

As a young kitten, Rudy was discovered by sangha members Seien and Sanjo Wilder on their nearby property in Mt. Tremper in 2015. The Monastery had recently lost its previous cat, Moss, to old age, and the timing seemed right to adopt another one. Hojin Sensei and Dharma holder Shoan gave Rudy his name on the 5 minute drive back from the Wilders to avoid a prolonged decision making process amongst monastics and residents. Rudy was an inspired choice and both the name and the cat were embraced immediately.

Cats have long played a useful role at monasteries in keeping mice and other creatures away from buildings and crops, and in providing comfort—if not an occasional distraction—to those in rigorous training. Rudy performed these functions handily and spent a majority of his days in the Monastery’s garden, especially when Yukon, his primary caregiver, was there at work. (You can catch Rudy towards the beginning of our Garden Tour video made in 2020.)

Rudy was a skilled hunter, though he was often discouraged from pursuing this pastime as all of his nutritional needs should have been taken care of by the abundant, high quality cat food that was provided for him twice a day, not to mention the treats that a number of residents indulged him with when they thought no one was looking.
(Ahem.)

On Friday, June 1st, residents gathered just before supper to lay Rudy to rest in a vacant corner of the garden he’d so long enjoyed. We chanted the Emmei Juku Kannon Gyo with Yukon offering incense to prepare the grave. Yukon then laid the first shovel full of dirt, calling after his beloved friend one more time through tear-soaked eyes with words we’d often hear when they were together, “Good boy, Rudy! Good boy.”

All in attendance then placed their own shovel full of dirt over the grave until it was complete, as we all chanted the Jizo Shingon Dharani and the late spring afternoon light filled the space with its radiance. Each person then stepped forward to place a flower on the grave, making their own offering in gratitude for the cat that gave so much over the course of his fortunate, yet all too brief, journey on this earth.

At the conclusion to this impromptu service, we shared some joyful recollections of Rudy and lingered a while longer amidst the garden’s blooming rows.

If you would like to make a donation in his honor, we suggest making an offering to your local ASPCA.

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Building the House of Jizo

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After more than a year of planning and fundraising, the humble and well-worn cottage across from the garden was torn down on June 18 to make way for a new Jizo House. That same week, another team successfully installed a lift in our main building. As part of a broader vision towards accessibility and inclusivity, these are long held dreams coming to fruition.

The new Jizo House will greatly enhance our facilities in a number of important ways. Visit ZMM.org/JizoProject to see renderings, plans and testimonials from some of the many bodhisattvas who have stepped forward to support this important initiative.

Below you’ll find an ongoing, regularly updated collection of photos from the building site. Though the Monastery is closed at this time to visitors, we are pleased to share this with you in the hopes that we can officially invite our maha-sangha for the grand opening, whenever that might be.

The original Jizo House. c. 1929 – 2020
The Jizo House served as the parsonage for Msgr. Joseph Scully who founded the original Christian retreat center (and later summer camp) on the Monastery grounds. Daido Roshi and his family moved in with their belongings in 1980 upon founding ZMM before we purchased a log cabin around the corner for the Abbacy. The cottage later provided office space, a location for our store, and accommodations for retreatants. We believe the Jizo House was built during the Great Depression, at the same time as our main house.
After excavating the foundation, a team moved in to begin anew.
June 25—Residents passing by the construction site as the new foundation is created.
July 16—Covering the basement (future dye studio and statuary) with sub-floor.
July 17—Our fantastic contractor crew, led by the formidable Nick Formont (at left).
July 23—Outside kinhin during July’s Interdependence Sesshin.
July 31—The first floor comes into view.
August 10—Roof joints through the apple trees.
August 12—Moving right along.
August 17—The exposed 2nd floor, just before sheeting was added.
August 22—The “front” of the Jizo House faces the Monastery’s main building. On the right hand side you’ll see doors that enter into a living room style common space.
August 28—Dormers on the north and south sides will add even more light and space to the second floor.
September 5—On the inside, looking north.
September 21—More lumber going up and in. Plus a sealed roof.
October 5—Window installation.
October 6—Door installation.
November 7—All enclosed with electricity connected. Just in time for the colder, wetter weather.
November 27—The application of wood panels, designed to match the Monastery’s main building, are bringing the Jizo House’s exterior design into full view.
December 3—Mn. Gokan, who oversees many of the Monastery’s construction projects, checks in with head contractor Nick Formont.
December 8—A new parking area will serve those retreatants staying at the Jizo House.
December 20—Jizo’s first real snow.
January 2, 2021—A view from Plank Road.
February 27—With help from a few residents, Monastic Rakusan Ricci has been working on new beds for the Jizo House.
March 12—With the winter snows melted, the crew finally had a chance to shingle the roof with tiles that match the main building.
July 3—After a year of construction, the Jizo House is completed! Its first guests slept here 2 weeks ago during Summer Solstice Sesshin and were delighted with the experience. Since then the sidewalk leading from the main building has been completed and the grounds surrounding the house have been seeded with hay for new grass.
July 3—Looking through the trees you can see the walkway that surrounds the house. Next up we’ll be working on some more landscaping around the exterior and making the Jizo house common room cozy and inviting.
Click here to watch a video of the dedication event we held on July 25th.
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Sangha marks 10th anniversary of Daido Roshi’s passing

· Photos, Reflections, Sangha News · , , , ,

by Sabine Russ

The mountain offered itself in full autumn splendor on Daido Roshi’s tenth memorial day: flaming colors, sharp lines, the most pristine of skies. Such effortless radiance of nature and the light, creating extra rich contrasts—ironically (given the person we were commemorating) a photographer’s field day. 

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