The first 3 months of 2023 have come and gone, and as always in life, some good things have happened and some not so good.

We experienced a couple more atmospheric rivers during the middle of March that were good and bad. Unfortunately, it caused more flooding and damage to homes and businesses already dealing with too much rain. On the other hand, the large amount of snow is reviving the economy of the Lake Tahoe region, bringing joy to those of you who enjoy skiing and snowboarding, and ensuring we will not have to worry about a drought this year.

It has been exciting to see many activities take place at the Betsuin for the first time in several years. This includes San Jose Jr. YBA holding their first in-person Spaghetti Dinner on February 4th, the Boy Scout Sunday service taking place on February 12th with Troop 29 from San Francisco joining our Troop 611, Yu-Ai Kai held their 49th anniversary dinner in our gym on March 4th, Boy Scout Troop 611 holding their annual family dinner on March 11th, and the Girl Scout Sunday service was held in the gym on March 12th. Plus, we have had in-person Dharma School services, adult services, and Japanese language services since September as well as many of our special services (New Year’s Day service, Ho Onko service on January 15th, Dana Day & Volunteer Recognition service on January 29th, Nirvana Day service on February 19th, and our Spring Ohigan service on March 19th). And thanks to our technical crew, all of our services are also accessible through the Betsuin’s YouTube channel for those unable to make a service or still wary of attending in-person.

One of the many benefits of seeing people in-person again is hearing about some of the happy events that have occurred in their lives. It has been wonderful to hear Sangha members’ children graduating from high school or college and/or getting their first full-time jobs. It has been great to hear about people getting engaged or married or welcoming a new baby to their family. And it has been interesting to hear how others have changed jobs or retired. As the ministers always say, life is full of impermanence, that things always change.

But it has been sad to hear of people that we know who are suffering from various health issues or have passed away. Back in October, Reverend Hiroshi Abiko passed away from bladder cancer. For many of us, Reverend Abiko was the first “cool” minister we ever met because he was so young and full of energy. Reverend Abiko was one of the advisors for San Jose Jr. YBA when I was in high school, and I have fond memories of that time. Two months later, Tom Yuki passed away. Tom was a huge supporter of the Betsuin and the Japanese American National Museum. And just last month, Mrs. Yumiko Hojo, wife of the late Reverend Hojo, passed away. Mrs. Hojo was active with our Betsuin choir and wrote several Gathas that are in the Dharma School Service book. I personally admired each of these individuals and the Betsuin is extremely grateful to each of them for their service to the Betsuin and serving as role models for all of us.

Of course, we never know what life will bring. Regardless, as we enter the second quarter of 2023, I hope you can successfully navigate the ups and downs that life throws at you and that you continue to use the Buddhist teachings to lead happy and productive lives.