by Lee Gutowski
In the constant din of this emotionally fraught election season, it’s good to take time to practice deepening our awareness of the peace and quiet that is buried within. Many of us have our own practices in place, which we turn to in our search for clarity and a sense of peace amidst the chaos.
Meditation serves us in the ongoing quest for peace. And right here in our town, the Milwaukee Zen Center (MZC) has been quietly welcoming seekers for 30 years to its home base at 2825 N. Stowell Avenue. The door is always open, and MZC and has recently been making changes and new connections in the community, specifically with their newest resident priest, Reirin (pronounced RAY-rin) Gumble.
Originally from Germany, Reirin comes to Milwaukee after spending 34 years in California, where she was lay-ordained in 1993. Reirin also raised her two children and ran a fiber arts business in Santa Cruz, where she taught adults and kids alike to delve into their own creative nature. She still spins and weaves regularly and ties these activities into her meditation practice.
“Zen practice is usually for adults only,” Reirin says. But she knows from personal experience how difficult it is to practice as a parent with young children. “MZC is planning to have a children’s program once a month, where the first part of the Sunday talk is directed at the young crowd, who then leaves with a community member.” Several times a year, children are invited to the Center for seasonal celebrations, she adds.
Jon Proniewski is a student of Reirin’s and was recently lay-ordained himself at the Milwaukee Zen Center. “When I was deciding where to move (from Chicago) with my family, I was looking for a city with a vibrant Zen center,” he says. “My teacher in Chicago recommended Milwaukee Zen Center. I’ve been able to have my young children here with me. It’s been so good for my practice, since with children you are always learning to let go of your own agenda and be with what’s happening with them. They continually remind me that my family is really my practice.”
Meditation practice at MZC is open to all, and most activities are offered for free, although donations are encouraged as they are the Center’s primary source of support. There are also membership opportunities at various levels, beginning at $10 a month.
April 12-16, MZC will offer a Spring Session (longer, more intensive meditation practice). April 22, the Center will celebrate Earth Day and a Bodhisattva Ceremony.
Milwaukee Zen Center’s Facebook page is frequently updated. You can find detailed information about their history, schedule, and upcoming special events—as well as answers to frequently asked questions about practicing Zen meditation—on their website, MilwaukeeZenCenter.org or by calling 414.963.0526.