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Mother's Day Jizo Ceremony

I made a promise to a friend that I would go to the Ceremony for Lost Children on their behalf. There have also been lost children in my family. But I didn't think I would be making a prayer flag, sewing a red bib, for Marcell, who is still alive, but lost to me, maybe lost to the world, too.

Sewing a bib for Marcell, who is about 17 now, seemed helpful. I remember when he was just 12 years old and insisted on coming to the Zen temple where I lived. He took care of plants, learned how to lay brick, played the piano, and taught me secret routes through the city where we could ride our bikes in peace.

On Mother's day, we all sat in meditation, our stories of loss hidden behind tears, upright posture, and in the emptiness of that huge room, a spacious yurt. To sit in a circle felt right, facing in, supporting each other with nothing more than a willingness to step towards our vulnerability in a ceremony for who already were. I went with the sincere wish to be a good big brother. What can a big brother do nestled into a valley so far away from the gritty schools and streets of New Orleans? They can sew.

While the teacher spoke tears flowed, and I thought there might not be an end to it. She was giving instructions on what to sew, where to sew from- we could sew a hat, or a bib, for Jizo. We would offer this later in a ceremony. I kept thinking, a hat for the lost babies of my friends and family...but what about Marcell?A bib? He needs a bullet proof vest.

There was some conflict there for me. Sew him a bullet proof vest and maybe that protection allows him to do harm. But that's what I sewed for him; it wasn't my job to figure out what he would do with my wish for his safe passage. I could only wish this for him, give it away as a gift, and leave it to him. And maybe it wasn't going to worn by him anyway. Maybe Jizo was going to wear it, and if Jizo was going to watch over Marcell, where he lives in the fighting god realm, he was going to need a bullet proof vest.

I wonder if people think this is just a ceremony, no magic to it. People can feel that way and maybe it will be that way when they think it's like that. I'm on the opposite side.  I'm open to the non-linear effect of karma, that this little invisible thing I do here could have radical affects some where else. I'm open to conscious construction, and if the consciousness changes, then so does the construction.

Two prayer flags hang in the garden now, one for Marcell, one for the lost babies.

For Marcell, it says: "You're not bullet proof, you know-Love, Mr. Keith"

For the babies: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming."


  1. Such a heart-warming post! I love this gesture of openness and vulnerability - opening our hearts to our own pain and the pain of others, allowing ourselves to feel the grief. Then creating something from that to send out into the ethers knowing that an "invisible force" will carry it where it needs to go - leaving an invisible impact on both lives... Beautiful.

    And I love your picture of Jizo...

    May your heart be at peace...

  2. Every life has seasons. Mine, not so easy lately. Perhaps it's the rain streaming down the window beside me, or the ache upright posture and tears has lent me....but I am typing this with wet fingers, damp cheeks. I've missed a few and can feel them sliding down over my heart. Somehow appropriate.

  3. The circle was very fitting; what a powerful and beautiful ceremony. I'm sending my whisps of prayer up for Marcell and the babies, as well.

  4. Very moved by the ceremony and your words above. I also resonate with a reality where the intentions of a monk or nun in a cave has an effect over this and perhaps other planes. Bien hecho, hombre.


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