My thanks to Des Moines Zen Center member Jon Shelness for the following email announcing upcoming Center activities:

Zen in the Art of Ferbruary:
Dear Sangha Members,
An Iowan suffering from terrible cabin fever in the deep and penetrating cold of an upper Midwest winter, sought out a Plains monk for advice. Just inside the door of the monastery, the new practitioner wilts: "I come to you in desperation. I have been studying the Way on the Internet. I have suffered great loss and feel trapped by my life. The winter wind and snow whistling around me, is holding me hostage. I am at a loss for what to do with myself. I am desperate. Please help." The monk, bowing in deep respect, answered, "Get bundled back up again, go back outside and shovel the path. When you are done, come inside and make tea."

Commentary: We humans have a unique relationship with the world. We lack the instincts that most other animals have for survival. We are bound by cultural mores and individual psychologies which guide most of our thoughts and actions which, as often as not, trap us in our own head. For many of us, this includes ruminating on our worries and fears. It is written in the Fukanzazengi that we must "put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward." By sitting with some regularily, "body and mind of thermselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest." When the monk urges you to take action, he or she is imparting an important piece of wisdom: The real practice of Zen is not on the cushion but in all the other waking hours.  That is why the Fukanzazengi says, "Going forward is, after all,  an everyday affair." The monk is sharing the advice of the ancients to find solace in the ordinary, to get busy, and to not over-think.
February schedule: 
Wednesday the 6th is the potluck
Sunday the 10th is the Dharma talk
Wednesday the 13th is the study group
Tuesday the 19th is the Intro to Zen class

For more details about our full schedule and location information, please see our website at