Raising the Dojo Roof


We started with a rocket launch, a couple days of intensive training before our summer sesshin pivoted to the deconstruction and reconstruction to the Mifflin St Dojo, Daikozen-ji. As of this writing, we’re coming off an incredible 4 days of teamwork, over which I’d estimate 20-plus people volunteered more than 784 hours and counting (we’d need one of those old McDonald’s billboard meters of hamburgers sold to keep up with it) to smash, carry, clean, sort, sand, chisel, scrape, weed, trim, and remove all that’s not needed. In a sense, we’re doing to this lovely old building what we also do in our training: cut through years of muck, remove the extra, the unneeded walls and useless insulation – to get down to the bones and build back up only what serves.

There was a ton of work done before I arrived, and much has continued since I left, but I invite you into my experience during this 4-day push. We went through 49 respirator masks, 33 pairs of gloves, 13 runs to the hardware store and 1 first aid run for saline solution for Olga’s eye (she’s fine). We filled 2 dumpsters, hauled off 18,000 pounds of garbage, lined 50 feet of curbside with brush, filled over 30 trash bags, and made 5 piles of recyclable materials. We filled 2 trash cans with emptied containers of bleach, windex, soft scrub, oven cleaner, simple green, CLR, lacquer thinner, and scrubbing bubbles. And then there’s the food. At Saturday’s lunch alone, we consumed 2 gallons of Pat’s black bean chili, .6 cubic feet of macaroni salad, 16 inches of Rebecca’s magnificent bread, a cooker of rice, 3 dozen lemon cookies and an Ice Box cake to die for.

Your generosity is fueling all of this. Indeed whether you are near or far, supporting with your sweat, your funds, or both, you’re part of the magic unfolding on Mifflin St. Here’s a few more numbers for you: We set out to raise $20,000 in just 20 days. Within 7 days more than 30 of you had answered the call, achieving 78% of target. Within 12 days, you had put us over $20,000. Eyes lit up with the hope that we might be able to move up the kitchen remodeling project with what comes in over the remaining 8 days. We’re also encountering those old building surprises that will add to costs (ask Greg about the bird nest he uncovered making leaks in the ceiling). I can’t say for sure how much will be raised by the time you’re reading this – I’m picturing one of those McDonald’s hamburger counters to keep up with it – but I will say that no donation could stretch further coming as it will through what must now be over 2000 hours of volunteer labor. And counting. Thank you for bringing something wondrous to life!

Ginny Whitelaw Roshi