Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
Theme: Gather, Seed, & Sit Patiently
It is February.
Gratitude wanders through hermitage. It is curious and asks -- Are we happy?
The world grows small. A man from England asks me to remove his artwork from a poem I wrote five years ago on our website. He's right. There's no reason to have anyone else's rendering of spiritual insight. His vision is his, not mine. Nor might he wish to be associated with my point of view. No need to. He teaches me well.
I sit in winter zendo with Sando at feet. Dalai Lama healing chant plays from middle room. Mixer in kitchen runs at Saskia's hand. She makes lemon cardamom cake. At snow bowl the national toboggan championships slide down chute this warm Saturday morning. Ice and snow abound -- just not as hard or fast as last week's below zero temperatures.
We settle into middle-winter. Regulars come to harbor shop for fireplace warmth and conversation. Stock sits on shelves in bookish murmuring among themselves. Myles' sign on shop door asks salt and grit be kicked from boots before entering. Pile scattered around two retired iron dock line fasteners grows daily.
Prayer is steady and solitudinous these days. The chapel/zendo sparkles in snow and sun. It is on winter retreat. A single small four-legged visitor stores seed under white blanket covering zabuton alongside Buddha statue's right knee. It is good practice to gather seed and sit patiently.
We go to prison more often. Between bi-weekly conversations, independent college course, and now g.e.d. teaching of math and writing -- we find ourselves in Warren Maine regularly. This, with the Philosophy course (ethics) and English course (fantasy, myth, & enchantment as self discovery) I teach at University College at Thomaston, brings the tires of the tired Caravan from Camden through West Rockport and Rockland by way of West Meadow Road and Old County Road several times a week.
God is a mystery to us.
We attend morning mass after sittings in front room whenever we can. We say psalms when we can. We chant heart sutra when we can. We watch Joan of Arcadia faithfully Friday evenings and prefer West Wing on Wednesdays to its real time daily counterpart.
We're grateful for the kindness people extend to us. At times it is a donation of money, at times a donation of volunteer work. Sometimes it is simply a kind word of encouragement. We also thank those who think we're foolish and inefficient. They tell us and tell others what they think -- that too is an energy source fueling our vocation.
We are going to continue Meetingbrook until its end -- however and whenever that comes. We will, in both meanings of the phrase, stay our hand.
We pray for all of you. We name some and we point nameless attention to the many whose names we do not know but whose presence we feel in the mystical body we inhabit together. No one is ever alone. There's no need for suicide. We are near one another in spirit and truth -- that's the mystery.
Cars pass up and down Barnestown Road. Breeze flutters cedar tree outside window. Healing chant descends and deepens sacred syllable "OM." Sunlight, still as sanctuary lamp, surveys room through winter film of pane glass. Last night's coffee from shop is tolerable with French Vanilla creamer.
It is February. Lent begins in Christian calendar -- an early Ash Wednesday. The day marking Buddha’s death and entering the perfect peace of Nirvana approaches. The mythic structure asks us to look at life, look at death, and live them through.
If we assume anything, we assume we are happy.
Week of Buddhist Nirvana Day and Christian Ash Wednesday
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December 2004 Update
December 2003 Update
December 2001 Update
December 2000 Update
December 99 Update
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