The Lotus Opens

Wow! After all these years of planning, working and waiting, our new Lotus in the Flame Temple is open at last!

With overflowing joy and gratitude our sangha met for the formal temple opening ceremony at 1856 S. Columbine Street on Sunday, Nov. 10. First we practiced zazen together in the zendo, settling into the spacious, silent hall; then we processed in a line around the temple as the teachers ritually opened each altar in the building. As we walked we also took in each elegant space, from the kitchen to the shrine room, delighting in its reality.

It’s a remarkable place and a remarkable accomplishment, and in celebrating together we also give deep thanks to the countless people who made it possible.

First we must thank our many donors, without whom none of this would be possible. Many, many people made this project a priority, giving selflessly to their community. Your generosity shelters all beings, and we trust that its effects will benefit generations to come.

Deep thanks are also due our architects at Semple Brown Design, who have been unstinting in their labor and enthusiasm for the project. Their skill, knowledge and care show in every corner. They have truly designed a temple that stands like a mountain and flows like water.

We likewise thank our builders, Spectrum General Contractors, for their meticulous efforts and tireless work. The quality of the building is outstanding, a testament to devoted craftsmanship.

Though finishing touches and plantings will come in the spring, the garden too is resplendent, and we thank Desirae Wood and Dobro Design for this elegant artistic vision, which will quite literally grow in beauty as the years pass.

And of course, we must thank our many members, dozens of whom have given countless hours of volunteer labor to see this project through to the finish. It has been remarkable to see how, just when a particular skill set was needed, someone with precisely those skills would step forward.

Lastly, two individuals merit special mention: our teacher Karin Ryuku Kempe, who shepherded the project from its inception; and George Mathews, who had been heading up the moving committee until he was diagnosed with a fatal illness. In fact the very first ceremony in the temple, on Saturday, was his memorial; and his ever-hilarious, ever-meticulous presence still seems to stand by our side.

In truth we cannot here fully recognize all the individuals responsible for the temple’s creation, but know that we are deeply grateful for your efforts. Building a temple really is the work and expression of a whole community, and our hope is that the Zen Center of Denver will be able to likewise serve our whole community – members, friends, city, and the great wide earth.

During the opening ceremony, Karin Roshi read a poem of dedication:

Light from the ancient star pours in through walls and windows,
The flower twirls, the earth smiles.
Tall rocks push through earth and sea to the sky.
This building and this garden hold the dharma as a refuge and a commitment.
These walls and stones are a promise kept, and a promise made new again today.
Listen, look, and enter here.
The voice of our ancient way speaks through traffic and wind.
May the lotus burn in an eternal flame as we open our doors to the world.
May our practice bring peace, joy and wisdom for the benefit of all beings.


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