Meetingbrook Dogen & FrancisHermitage Update, July 2000
Saskia, with help (Cheryl), scrapes, paints, and launches (Mike by land, Jeff by water) the 26’ O’Day. A crowd of ragtag harbor side help (the Clarity crowd of Robert, Su-Sane, Sandra, and computer man Karl) under the borrowed direction of captain Bob, stepped the mast and secured the rigging on deck at dock -- followed by the first toodle around the outer harbor with most hands aboard. The afternoon sails have begun. Come sail with Saskia – these, too, are free, open and informal.
Two Phoebe’s jump about the shaggy berry bush outside the window. Sando sleeps on the bed. Mini crouches on windowsill.
We’ve begun the 5th year of Meetingbrook. Below, in the poem written on the occasion of Peter & Paul (29June, the anniversary of our beginning), the lines:
sea and land
speak of our current position and activity. We are stepping along the change that undulates as surely as the tidal exchange each hour at the meeting of sea and land. Anyone visiting the ocean has experienced this constant/change. In and out, up and down, calm and stormy, dark and light – the natural expression of maritime and human movement. Those familiar with the constant/change of the sea/land exchange wisely watch with respect/caution what takes place there.
Below, in the motto of Meetingbrook Hermitage, a similar movement takes place. What does “Embodying the Dwelling-place of the Alone” mean? What does “Stepping aside to make room for Another” suggest? These are questions for us at Meetingbrook, ongoing koans we sit with and attempt to mindfully practice. These questions are our practice.
Sunday Evening Practice is in its 6th week & is a lovely addition. The combination -- sitting, walking, sitting, reading, soup & bread, chanting -- during that 2hr period from 6pm-8pm -- is a settling beginning/end to the week.
The evening events held at the shop during the week continue to nourish and inspire. We feel like Tom and Huck in Mark Twain’s imagination – others come to paint the fence, that is, to share and teach what they know and what they question, and we are the grateful recipients of their gifts.
I visit Harold in Thomaston Prison. He continues writing his story in the “Poetry and Autobiography” course he and I developed for his college studies. We will be sending him a not-so-semi-official certification that he is, indeed, a valuable and important member of the Meetingbrook community/sangha. (Attached is an excerpt of his writing from a recent chapter)
Brad, who led the Gary Graham Died Wednesday conversation, is thinking of a way to invite a number of people to contribute a set sum of money for a year to cover our rent & utilities for the shop. That effort, along with a teakettle specifically placed at the shop to receive donations for shop rent and for development of the hermitage, have complemented the unsolicited contributions others have made to help keep the shop and its proprietors from distraction and dismay.
Friendly arguments with Dick (a regular) have elicited the recent insight that it is only when we embody the question with our whole heart, whole mind, whole soul, & whole being – that we thereby embody the answer. The question we pose in our prayer, silently or vocally, is the answer we receive. We present this question/answer every time we face another, we face ourselves.
It occurs to me that Meetingbrook, as a place, is both spiritually concrete and spiritually virtual. Concrete – (from L. concrescere, to grow together), meaning “characterized by or belonging to immediate experience of actual things or events.”And, Virtual – (from L. virtus, strength), meaning “being in essence or effect but not in fact.”[Webster’s 7th] Perhaps our invitation to visit needs to admit that each of us already occupy a hermitage, already have a practice, already belong to a community of shared gifts. This admission is an invitation to deepen whatever already exists – in our hearts, in our homes, in our communities, in our geographical locales.
The hermitage is our very reality. It is here/there. There is a place in Camden known as Meetingbrook Hermitage. But there is a place in your very room, indeed, in your very self that is a Meetingbrook. It is there that you visit when the need to refresh and revive calls. Meetingbrook received its name and logo as well as its motto when we looked at the land on Barnestown Road at Ragged Mountain where we live. Water flows down the mountain, separates at a place further back upland, then returns to itself at the roots of an old large pine. This “Meetingbrook,” where what is separated returns to itself, is within each and all of us.
This “Meetingbrook,” is where here and there become here/there. It is the hermitage of one’s deepest self that we find ourselves called to – to visit, to practice stillness and silence, to rest within the embrace of the hidden God. It is the hermitage where we are allowed to be simple and unknowing, quiet and non-performing, accomplished and perfect, without fear, unfinished and without comparison. This hermitage is who and what we are. It is a place of solitude and it is a place of profound community. Look in the mirror – there is your face -- you are invited to smile and bow to that holy place. I think it might be easier to find what-is-called-God when we finally abandon both the names we have given God and the places we have put God. The question arises:
What is nameless, placeless, presence/absence, here/there, and now/forever – What Is Itself?
May the divine assistance remain with us in this question!
Meetingbrook is a specific place that many faces visit. It is only an external representation of an inner hiddenness that belongs to each one of us. It is the Monos Soma Nomos: Choreysomai -- Embodying the Dwelling-place of the Alone: Stepping aside to make room for Another. The practice belongs to each one of us. The motto belongs to anyone engaging the practice. The pilgrimage practicing our true home is engaged.
It is my suspicion that once we practice visiting our true home -- those we thought lost are found; those hurt, healed; those forgotten, remembered; those misunderstood, heard; those harming, forgiven; and those excluded, included within the embrace.
It is done wherever we are, with whomever we find ourselves, any time and all times. When we visit each other, whenever we come into the presence of another (concretely or virtually), we are visiting a holy place. Welcome!
Enjoy the visit,
Peter and Paul at Meetingbrook, Two Solitudes Between Sea and Land
If you wish to see the Buddha, you must look into your own inner-nature; this nature is the Buddha himself. If you have not seen your own nature, what is the use of thinking of Buddha, or reciting sutras, or fasting, or keeping precepts? - Bodhi-Dharma (d.533)
A rock & a small
mystery: a robin sings
who fishes, one who makes tents;
(Embodying the Dwelling-place
64 Barnstown Rd.,
Camden, Maine USA 04843
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50 Bayview St. (Cape on the harbor)
Camden, Maine USA 04843
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