Moving to Syracuse: The Why’s – January 8, 2017

By now most, if not all, know that I am leaving Charlotte, NC and moving to Syracuse, NY.  While it may seem sudden to many it is something that I have been planning on doing for several years, though I may not have shared it openly.  Many have asked me why Syracuse and why now.  I would like to take this time to provide some answers.

When I returned to Charlotte after graduating from Portland State University in 2007 I did so with the intention of it not being my permanent home.  I had already lived here for 13 years when I left and now it has been an additional 10 years.  I have now lived in Charlotte longer than I’ve lived any place in my life and I am feeling it in my soul.  I feel confined, I feel an itch to explore something new, I feel a wonder lust if you will.  I have a deep need to do something different and be someplace new. 

At age 65 I made a promise to myself, and one I shared with several people including my supervisors at the hospital where I work, that I would leave Charlotte and live someplace new by the time I reached 70. It could have happened sooner or it could happen later, but as long as I was physically able I was going to be moving. 

Three or four years ago I settled on Syracuse based upon two criteria.  Those two are it had to be a place where it snowed, and there had to be a VA hospital in the city.  After I returned from a month of driving around upper New England through MA, VT, NH, and Maine I started a distant search.  Of the locations in that region that had a VA hospital in the city, and there are many, all of them had a higher cost of living and greater population density than I cared for.  So I expanded the search and came to the decision that Syracuse looked quite promising.

Since all of the places are places I’ve never been too they all were equally exciting.  When I shared this information with Terri Bolotin the Spiritual Director at CMC-Mercy where I do most of my Chaplain work she told me that she knew someone at the hospital there.  Terri has been a wonderful person in my life who has supported my efforts as a Chaplain.  She is not my direct supervisor, she is however the supervisor I work with.  She and Angela Clark have both been very supportive of my work and at times have encouraged me when I became discouraged with the long process of being fully certified as a chaplain.  Terri has since reaffirmed that she will gladly recommend me to her friend who is also the supervisor of spiritual care at the hospital there.  I am hopeful I’ll be able to continue my chaplain work in a new setting.

When I returned to Charlotte I had no idea I would become a chaplain. It is work I hoped I would be able to continue.  I had by this time, except for a few years, been working with AIDS and HIV patients for a number of years since the beginning of the epidemic in the early 80s.  It was quite by accident that I stumbled into the formal world of Board Certified Chaplains.

In the course of the three years of training in intern and resident capacities I have met and been influenced by many wonderful people.  These individuals have dedicated themselves to their work and to myself.  They have made themselves available as resources and as role models.  I consider myself unreasonably fortunate to have met them.

I’ve now been around on this planet for 67 years, not long and yet considerably longer than many of my friends.  I’ve outlived my high school friends, I’ve outlived many social friends, in fact I’ve practically outlived everyone I knew through high school, college, Marine Corps, Hawaii life, and San Diego life.  Most of the people in San Diego I was with when they died.  So, while the number value of my age isn’t high it does represent a gift of years many did not have.  This is important to me, the gift I’ve been given.

While now not many have died I am aware I’ve been given a different gift, and this gift is the one I’ll be leaving behind to a degree.  I’ve been given the gift of having so many stellar teachers and friends when I was in college and while training to be a chaplain.  Some of those individuals our paths have already diverged, mainly those from my college years.  Over the past year there have been some others whose path has taken a new route and have moved on themselves. I’m thinking Johnathan Frierich formerly at Temple Beth El, and Nancy Craft formerly of Holy Trinity Lutheran, both of whom have influenced me and I’ve learned from. 

The list of names from my chaplain training is a long one, and it is one of the things that make my move bitter sweet.  I will miss them.  Greg Hathaway, Angela Jansen-Keenan, Rebekah Ramsey, Malu Fairley, Beth Jackson Jordan, David Carl, as well as Terri Bolotin and Angela Clark to name only a few.  I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the all up with. 

Then there is my favorite friend here, David Powers, whom I will miss immensely.  For years we have enjoyed various meals together and conversations, both of which have nourished me without measure.  I’ll miss them.

Thanks to the available technology it is possible to stay connected in ways not possible through much of my life.  I am realistically aware though that many of those possibilities won’t be used.  It isn’t the way things work out.  Intentions of remaining connected are real and the reality of lives go on and they go on differently is also real.  So I leave with a hope for continued friendships and presence, of a different and yet to be discovered kind.

So for many of you there is the question of what happens with the temple.  Over the past several years the temple has evolved in a direction unexpected by me.  I would not have thought an online temple would be where I ended up.  There is a need for a space to practice for practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism who do not live near temples.  That space is one that is changing and I am going to continue exploring.  One of the nice things is that I can do it from any place, and so I will continue with the temple.  Myosho-ji will continue to exist and I am hoping to expand the online offerings as my move progresses.  When I met with the director of the overseas bureau he and I discussed this and so Myosho-ji will continue as a digital or online sangha and not as a physical building space.  I will be supporting the temple in Rochester and efforts in Buffalo but only in a retired or assistant capacity.  I’ll help with any teaching or training Kanjin Cederman Shonin wishes of me. 

Why now is perhaps the question I’ve not covered.  The answer is simply that most of what I had hoped to accomplish has been accomplished here.  My objectives are finished and it is time to make new ones.  If I’m going to make new goals and long range objectives then why not make them in Syracuse since my body needed to be someplace else.  In fact, I have already begun to explore some ideas for some things I would like to do in this next great adventure of mine.

This will be fun, and I hope you will enjoy the excitement along with me.  I know I have many friends and I do not take that lightly.  You also have a friend, someone you know will now live in Syracuse.  I look forward to also enjoying the excitements in your lives.  I’ll be on Facebook some, mostly Twitter as of right now.  Postal mail is the best way to interact, the way I am most comfortable with and enjoy the most even since age 9.  I like writing letters.  Who knows  you may get some crazy art or decorated envelope from me if you write.  Email is all right, I am slow at responding so I’ll warn you in advance.  Then there is always the phone for those who have my number.

Thanks for putting up with me and my craziness which looks unplanned and reckless from the outside but inside me it all makes perfect sense.

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About Ryusho 龍昇

Nichiren Shu Buddhist priest. My home temple is Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC. You may visit the temple’s web page by going to http://www.myoshoji.org. I am also training at Carolinas Medical Center as a Chaplain intern. It is my hope that I eventually become a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently I am also taking healing touch classes leading to become a certified Healing Touch Practitioner. I do volunteer work with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (you may learn more about them by following the link) caring for individuals who are HIV+ or who have AIDS/SIDA.