In one of my earliest posts on this blog, I talked about Blanche’s key role in my early years at Zen Center – these lessons will stay with me as long as I practise, and this is how a person lives on after their death. Since I was heading to Zen Center for a scheduled priest meeting on Friday afternoon, I went early to join others sitting with her body in the Buddha Hall for a while.
I don’t know that I have much more new to say; it was nice on Friday to go back to find a few posts I wrote in the Ino’s Blog where I featured Blanche, which I invite you to read, and even follow the links to her dharma talks (edited to add up-to-date links). I also delved into my photo archive to pull up a selection to offer to the web people at Zen Center, and a dharma friend who wanted a picture to put on her altar, so here are a few of the many pictures I have of her.

This is a scan of a film photograph, from my first weeks at Zen Center in 2000. Blanche and Lou in the courtyard, a personal favourite picture for many reasons.

Residents' Retreat Blanche copy
Blanche at a residents’ retreat at Green Gulch, enjoying herself along with everyone else.

Ren and Blanche 4 copy
There were always hugs. This is Ren’s shuso ceremony at Tassajara in 2007.

Jukai Blanche copy
Blanche as the lead preceptor at a jukai in 2010.

Pride - Blanche at the end copy
Blanche was outspokenly progressive in many areas, and made a point of supporting Pride, and Zen Center’s contribution to the parade.

Blanche seeing them off copy
Blanche in Lily Alley, seeing off a carload of monks heading down to start a practice period at Tassajara. This was part of her being the ‘grandmother’ of Zen Center, and she did it for as long as she was physically capable of it.

Mountain Seat - Blanche soji copy
Blanche on the morning of Christina’s Mountain Seat ceremony in 2012, making herself useful. During morning soji she would often have a dustpan and brush and be sweeping the stairs from the main hallway up to the kaisando.

Mountain Seat - current and former abbots copy
Later that same day, looking a little more formal.

Greens - Steve Blanche copy
At a Zen Center meeting at Greens. When I looked at pictures from that day recently, it was poignant to think that at the time, nobody would have thought that Steve would die before Blanche.

Fire ceremony Blanche copy
At the bonfire which marks the end of the New Year’s Eve celebration, after midnight.

Blanche New Year ceremony copy
She would also be present for the New Year morning procession. Here she offers words of encouragement in the kaisando.

Lucy shuso - photo Lucy Blanche copy 2
Her last visit to Tassajara, for Lucy’s shuso ceremony in 2014

Blanche lecture copy
Her last Saturday lecture (I think), March 2015. In her last years, she spoke almost exclusively about lovingkindness.

Blanche Age Song - Djinn's cold hnads
From my last visit to the care facility where she stayed before her death – she was frail, but still sharp and full of love.

Blanche tokudo copy
Looking positively regal at a tokudo ceremony.

13 thoughts on “Blanche

  1. Shundo- thanks for being a Groit- a storyteller, helping to maintain the history of this great and perfect woman, in pictures and words.


  2. The links to the talks appear to be out of date. I wonder if anyone at SFZC can put a list of talks with links on the memorial page or wherevr it is appropriate? I always loved listening to Zenkei’s words and I have been having difficulty finidng talks.


  3. With deep gratitude for your love of Blanche, the community and this practice that you capture so clearly and share so freely through your photos and insights. Thank you, Shundo.


  4. Oh Shundo, she’s holding my hands in the second-last photo… I had forgotten that. My tears are starting again.


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