I have sad news to share: one of my great dharma sisters and friends on the path, Jayna Gieber passed at 12:30 AM on October 18th. She was given a diagnosis on Friday October 13th of
pancreas cancer. Her family brought her home to her land in Battle Ground, Washington. She went into unconsciousness Saturday October 14th. She made her transition with her beloved husband Jonny, daughters, granddaughters, cat and dog. She died peacefully surrounded with love. The speed of her transition has as all stunned. We are also grateful that spirit could carry her with such grace and ease.
Jayna has Native American spiritual roots and has done training with Joanna Macy in addition to being a Reverend. She attended her first retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh in 2004 and she received the 5 Mindfulness Trainings in our tradition. She traveled to Vietnam with Thay in 2005 and she has attended the summer retreat in Plum Village. In 2005, Jayna was ordained into the Order of Interbeing by Thay and received the dharma name,
True Recollections of the Mindfulness Trainings
. She attended numerous retreats at Deer Park monastery and has participated in Oregon retreats and trainings with many dharma teachers including Larry and myself. She was one of the founders of the
and has been in leadership in several sanghas in her area since 2004.
Jayna practiced deeply with her despair and heart break connected with the ongoing destruction of Mother Earth. Through her practice she learned that she was called to serve as a minister in the climate activism movement. She took her despair and moved it into spiritual activism. For the past 5 years, she was actively engaged in public outreach in Portland connected to deep ecology. This included public speaking, silent sits, peace marches and flash mob sits. In 2014 she was selected to be on Al Gore’s team and was trained in Climate Activitism and how to be an Eco Warrior. She and Jonny traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the training where the Gore organization recognized her as a minister and validated her own calling to lead short meditations and silent breaks at gatherings in South America as well as in Canada.
Jayna has celebrated over 35 years of sobriety. She was open and honest about her past experience with addiction and her transformative journey into healing and whole-ing. Jayna previously survived breast and skin cancer and wrote a book, Snatched from the Fire ,about her life journey. She was working on a book on her stories of being with Thich Nhat Hanh.
Jayna's native ceremonial name was Warm Nest Woman.
She did just that with her home and lodge - Crooked Kitty Ranch.
This year I co-led a remarkable women’s retreat on her property. We had a wonderful group of women that collected for silent practice, prayers, and walks on the beautiful land at Jayna’s home. Jayna was very proud of the work that she and Jonny did with this land, planting over 1,000 trees and creating paths, meditation gardens, a sweat lodge and teaching cabins. They co- created a beautiful refuge that has been a place of comfort and healing for many practitioners.
We submitted her application for Dharma Teacher in our tradition and we received 6 letters from Dharma Teachers all in support of Jayna to receive the Dharma Lamp in 2018.
Brother Phap Ho, Abbot at Deer Park monastery, said: “I have been touched by Jayna’s openness, asking for input and guidance, as well as her deep aspiration to bring the issues of climate change, mindfulness practice and Sangha together. Jayna recognizes the fire energy in her relationship with her activism and has looked into this with the clear aspiration to practice peace is the way.
It seems that many people gravitate toward Jayna and during retreats here, I feel that she is an elder in our Order of Interbeing community”.
Dharma Teacher Barbara Casey of Washington offered that:
“I got to know Jayna when I mentored her to be ordained into the Order of Interbeing in 2004. She reminded me of our teacher, in that behind her gentle and deeply loving way was a fierce determination to care for all beings and especially Mother Earth. She held the promise of making things right so deeply in her heart that she inspired us to show up, ask the hard questions, and do the work of transformation.
She walked her path with courage, joy and wisdom. I have loved her for all these years and that love is now more precious than ever. “
I was a mentor and spiritual guide supporting Jayna for 13 years. I am heart broken and also filled with love of Jayna and for Jayna. Jayna was emotionally mature, wise, stable, kind and fun. She worked hard to transform her despair about climate change into spiritual activism. When she would run into a brick wall in life or in her practice, she would call and we would sit with these places. It has been my honor to have a friend that shared her highs, lows, challenges and delights.
Jayna and Jonny practice deeply with their love and they adored each other. They lived and loved beautifully, enjoying their two daughters and taking great delight in their granddaughters. I know her granddaughters will retain some of their adventures, as Jayna brought them to silent sits, peace marches, garden crafting, soap making, and all kinds of Sangha celebrations.
Jayna shared with her family last week: “I don’t want to leave you guys, but I am choosing to believe that I am not really leaving you”. In her final days she also shared that “love is all that matters. I love everybody”.
Below is a short, 1 minute teaching from Jayna about creating community.
Thank you Jayna for your deep practice and your abiding love.