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Sandy Garcia's Introduction to Bill Menza's "The Dharma Rain"

14 Sep 2015 4:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Bill Menza was my dear friend, counselor, and role model.  As a loving brother on the path, over the course of many years he touched me deeply through his persistent teachings about, and behavioral demonstrations  of love based on the Dharma. 

Bill’s unwavering reliance on the Dharma to encourage others to wake up and to love and serve others shone like a bright beam of light.  My growth and clear seeing was enhanced by his frequent reminder that taking refuge in the Three Jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, is all that one needs for healing and transformation in this life.  

When encountering Bill, one was assured that through his teaching, his friendship, and other vehicles, one would receive life-affirming gifts.  He understood and taught that the connection, understanding, and acceptance that we all so long for always flows to us and through us when we share our love, compassion and generosity with all sentient beings.   

For years, Bill and approximately 15 other sangha brothers and sisters met Sunday mornings at a brother's farm near Tampa, FL,  to study the Dharma, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and pick oranges generously made available by the farm’s owners.  During these gatherings, one could count on Bill's deep, penetrating contributions during the discussion period.  We all marveled at his copious note-taking, assured that he would use them to share insights and wisdom for years.  Bill turned picking oranges into yet another loving exercise as he always picked an extra bag or two to take back to Sarasota to share with others.   

No matter the topic, the death of a loved one, racism, an inhumane prison system, the Holocaust, the Charleston, SC. massacre, Engaged Buddhism and the prerequisites for activism based on right view, the wounded child, his own “demons”, or anything I or anyone within the group became stuck on, Bill always found time to connect, to care, and to teach.  Moreover, no matter the location, The Tampa Practice Center, Blue Cliff Monastery, Plum Village, cyberspace,  or elsewhere, Bill made himself available for teaching and sharing  the Dharma.  While conversations with Bill were always welcomed and beneficial, for years Bill quietly and persistently created and nourished yet another vehicle, his wonderful Dharma poems.

On September 10, 2010, I received four poems from Bill which reminded me of my good fortune of having received many others from him over the years.   It was probably then that I first thought about how a book of his poetry could also benefit many others.  In early 2015, exactly two weeks after his cancer diagnosis, an email exchange between us resulted in the launching of a long-overdue book project.  

Deeply grateful for the years-long Dharma poetry teachings that he'd so generously shared with me, on March 17, 2015, I asked if he'd ever considered publishing some of his poems.  He responded with the subject line:  “Hi Sandy; am I dreaming!!!! hugs and poems”, and went on to write, "Your words are some very strong good medicine.  I am feeling real good now.  A book of poems so they can tell others about the Dharma has been my life-time dream.  Let's look into this.  Over the next few weeks I might not be able to help a lot with such a project.  Maybe especially when chemo  treatment starts.  But would do what I can.  Yes, please share my poems as you see fit and useful to spread the Dharma.  I will send you more poems to put to good Dharma use.” Shortly thereafter, Bill sent 176 poems.  I contacted Beth DeLap, owner of The Whole Salamander Publishing Cooperative, and Ken Lennington, MD, Beth’s husband and Bill's dear sangha brother.  Ken read and edited every poem, Beth agreed to involve her masterful editing and publishing skills, and the project took off.  

During the days that he was critically ill and his body deteriorated, Bill continued to send detailed, intimate, loving emails that shared information about his various ailments so that others might learn and possibly take steps to alleviate their own present or anticipated suffering.  Always giving.  He labeled his many doctors, other help providers, and his beloved wife Alica as true Bodhisattvas.  Always grateful.  As a participant on the phone sangha, Bill continued to teach and share until he was too weak to continue.  Always loving.

Ultimately, 210 poems were included in a proof copy of Dharma Rain Brings Flowers, that brother Bill was able to enjoy for two weeks before he left.  Writing  that the book was his baby, Bill was pleased that the words that he had so diligently and lovingly worked with for many years might, in fact, benefit others and help to foster understanding and compassion among sentient beings, and love of the Dharma.

Thank you dear friend Bill for being all that you were, and for having given all that you gave to your fellow brothers and sisters throughout the world.  You are the true embodiment of the concept and practice of Interbeing, and of the fact that we Inter-are.  May the Dharma Rain in your book water the seeds of wisdom and compassion for countless people from all walks of life and on all loving paths throughout the world.

With love, joy, and ease,

Sandy Garcia

Source of True Clarity

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