Support Mid-City Zen, our Sister Sangha in NOLA

Mako Voelkel News Archive

Hello! I’m writing this request with an excited yet calm, nervous yet hopeful, urgent yet spacious heart!  I’ve launched a Patreon page to fund my work of teaching meditation in prisons and being the full time priest at Mid City Zen.  

Over the years, the threads of my work have woven into something that is emerging into a unified tapestry.  When I’m asked the question, “So what do you do?” on a bad day, I tend to freeze up and say “It’s hard to explain.”  On a good day, I see flashes of it all and pick one or two responses that I’m excited about.

I’d love to respond with, “I am a Zen Buddhist priest leading a compassionate community of humans who care deeply, who are finding nourishment through their spiritual practice.  I am clergy, I study and teach, I care for my congregation when they are struggling and when they are celebrating.  I do ceremonies.  I teach meditation in prisons.  I work in restorative justice, trusting that people have the capacity to resolve their own conflicts.  I strive as a facilitator and mediator to allow people to listen and understand each other.  I do interfaith work; I find joy in bridging faith traditions.”  But that’s a mouthful. 

I took a risk over a year ago by leaving the security of a full-time job.  I had created a restorative justice program for youth in the court system that was no longer fulfilling; it drained me. Since then, I’ve been piecing things together, weaving the tapestry of being a full time Zen priest in an era of ever increasing destruction in this country.  It took me some time to realize something many of you have already told me:

Being a priest is a full-time job.

In response to “What do you do?”  I always want to answer, “I’m a Zen priest.”  But there’s a reason I don’t:  I don’t get paid to do it.

Mid City Zen is a sangha with a small budget.  We are a dedicated group of practitioners and over the last 6 years have become a strong Dharma community.  I’m writing to ask for support in being the full-time Zen priest here at Mid City Zen.  By supporting me, you are supporting New Orleans to have full-time Buddhist presence, in the zendo, on the streets, in prisons and in other places of prayer.

To make a donation please visit my Patreon page HERE

 It’s really cool – it is a monthly subscription platform, which is great for steady support, plus I get to keep you all informed of the inspiring things happening here in Louisiana (we all need a little good news now and then).  Monthly support is key in order for me to be able to keep doing this work.  If you sign up above $25/mo, you’ll get dharma talks, charming videos of me, and at $50 or more you’ll get content from incarcerated folks who are practicing meditation.

For example, I’ve recently been invited to another prison to teach meditation (unpaid as of now!).  But that requires time, gas, curriculum, and energy.  I’ve also been doing work on the Interfaith Sanctuary movement here, joining the immigrant community in standing up against deportations.  Plus, leading the sangha here, caring for the zendo, studying and teaching the dharma.  

It is my life’s work; I ask for your support as I continue leading from my heart and tending to these communities of compassion.  Please consider being a subscriber at the $25/50 or $85/mo level.  Or $100 if you are a magical fairy godparent.