This bodhissatva or "saint" in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition stands in front of our kitchen window, in a small gravel garden that conveniently came with the house. You can perhaps see that she (or he) carries a sistrum, a staff with three rings suspended on it, which jingle to warn small life forms that a harmless pilgrim is coming. Thus it is known as "the stick with a voice." She is the protector of all who journey through the physical and spiritual realms, especially children, and comforts those suffering from loss. In Japan, she is often protected by a red cape.
Our Jizo, a gift from my husband Tom, was made at Great Vow Monastery. You can read more about Jizo in Jan Chozen Bays' book, Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers & Other Voyagers.
The flyleaf of our copy is beautifully inscribed and signed by Jan:
Lifetime after lifetime
we journey together
on the path to awakening
guided and supported by
the qualities of
within our own hearts,
minds & bodies---great love,
clear wisdom, and no fear.
It can get lonely for a Buddhist here in Ohio, so we like to have this reminder. And since we were raised Christian, and our Zen teacher is also a Jesuit priest, in our back yard we have a statue of St. Francis, a remarkably similar saint.