September 8, 2011

Create A Zen Garden

My world grew much larger this summer when our family visited Korea to meet my daughter-in-law’s father in Seoul. First though, my daughter Meredith and I flew to Japan to meet up with a longtime friend from our kids’ days at Blue Ash Elementary School here where we live. Meredith and Yumi Terai were in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade together. It’s always been our dream to visit Yumi’s family in Japan. She’s in Tokyo now, very busy in medical school, but her parents Tetsuje and Miharu hosted us for a memorable four days in central Japan in Kobe, Kyoto, and Nara.

I’m a gardener, and for me, a highlight was our visit to a Buddhist shrine and its huge Zen garden -- one of the biggest in the world, Miharu told me. We sat and simply enjoyed the experience, Miharu on her knees like always and me -- well, I sat how I usually sit. I tried my best to do some meditation, but somewhere in this big green space a gardener was hard at work with his chain saw…

Which leads me to the activity I’m posting …. How to create a Zen garden. I wrote this for my second book Theodore Roosevelt for Kids: His Life & Times. As for the connection to “TR” -- he sent a “White Fleet” of ships around the world as a display of U.S. naval power, and they stopped in Japan. Later, Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering a treaty between Japan and Russia after they fought a war in 1904-1905. This is fun to do when the weather's bad or you'd like to work on a bit of Japanese culture.

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