May 20, 2024
Wendy Lewis Departs City Center for Enso Village

Wendy Lewis and David Zimmerman. Photo by Tova Green.


Photos and text by Tova Green

Abbot David sharing some opening words.

A Departing Ceremony, officiated by Central Abbot David Zimmerman, was held for Wendy Lewis in the City Center zendo on May 3. The ceremony was followed by a celebratory potluck dinner in the Conference Center. Wendy left City Center, where she was a resident for over thirty years, for Enso Village on May 8.

Abbot David opened the ceremony and thanked Wendy for her thirty-five years of practice and service at San Francisco Zen Center. Wendy’s first staff role was Head of Cabin Crew at Tassajara in the summer of 1989. Other positions she held include Guest Cook at Tassajara, Corporate Secretary, Director of City Center, and Dean of Studies. For the last ten years she did “a superb and diligent job as the Web Editor in what is now known as our Communications Department.” David remarked on how she was “very thorough, reliable, and knowledgeable.”

Speaking to Wendy directly, Abbot David said, “Wendy, many have been touched by your kindness, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and willingness to offer a listening ear. You have consistently brought a passionate and scholarly approach to your Dharma talks and classes, often challenging Zen Center and the sangha in these forums to consider other perspectives and approaches to expressing and engaging the Dharma, including through a social justice lens.

“Wendy, please know that you are loved and cherished. We will greatly miss the presence of you in the temple but know that you will not be far away as you help establish a new practice community at Enso Village.”

A jundo, in which Wendy bowed and was bowed to by all those in the zendo, followed, and then three of Wendy’s sangha friends, Shosan Victoria Austin, So-On Eli Brown Stevenson, and Kogen Kim Hart, offered statements of appreciation, and Wendy shared her thoughts about her time at City Center.

Wendy’s family members and friends joined the sangha for the ceremony and the delicious potluck dinner that followed. Before cutting the cake, Abbot David presented Wendy with a gift from the sangha, a statue of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Wendy unwrapping the gift from the sangha: a statue of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Wendy at the ceremony, surrounded by friends and family.