Today At Meetingbrook

Friday, June 13, 2003

At Thursday Evening Conversation for second week we speak about homelessness.

We are particles. We live particular lives. A particle remains itself. While not separate from congregates forming a distinct and visible collection within the whole, a particle of itself goes on by itself nearly invisible and hidden .

There was a famous female hermit, Machig Labdron, in eleventh-century Tibet. Her story parallels those of Western Christian female hermits in the Middle Ages. Her family opposed her desire to devote herself to the spiritual life because she was seen as a useful domestic worker, whose economic role was a marriage object. When she went to live alone in a cave the abbot of the local monastery perceived her as a threat, because she was an outsider. Even when he met her and was convinced of her authenticity, he wanted her to move into a monastery and become part of the system. The yogin, male or female, like the hermit, remains an outsider, detached, to some extent mysterious, and possessed of a particular kind of authority. (pp.10-11, in A Pelican in the Wilderness, Hermits, Solitaries, and Recluses, by Isabel Colegate c.2002)

"A particular kind of authority" -- the phrase suggests that of itself, in itself, and by itself this individual is undivided and thereby in union with the whole.

There are those who judge and categorize, thereby making "others" in contrast to the system the individual is being measured for or against. This is how we "other" people. We create systems, calculate who is in and who is out, and qualify our own belonging in contradistinction to their non-belonging status.

Those not "in" are "out." Benefits accrue to those in. Recognition and achievement apply to those in. Welcome is afforded to members who visit from kindred "in" systems.

Homelessness is about not belonging. Who is homeless? Dens, nests, bank mortgages, credit, and personal income determine who has a home and who -- in the eyes of determining makers of systems -- are worthy to be included in the rolls of the included.

Some of us are homeless and do not belong in the eyes of membership list keepers.

I belong to life itself. No membership need apply. Breathe in, breathe out. And when breathing in and out ceases, when breath finds itself neither in nor out, when there is no longer any question of in or out, then -- there will be no question of belonging.

Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua.
He joined the Franciscan order at San Antonio in Coimbra and took the name Antonio after the great abbot of the desert, who was patron of the friary. He went to Morocco to preach the Gospel, but he became so seriously ill that he had to return.

His boat went off course and he landed in Sicily, and from there went on to Assisi. After the General Chapter he was assigned to the hermitage of San Paoli. The date of his ordination is uncertain, but his ability as a preacher became widely known when he was told at an ordination in Forli, to give the homily, because no one had prepared one for the occasion. His astounding knowledge of Scripture, his eloquence, and his deep love and adoration of God became very apparent. He was recalled from the hermitage and commissioned as a preacher.

In the U.S. Anthony is the patron invoked to help find lost articles, but he is also patron of the poor. In Portugal and elsewhere "St. Anthony's bread" referred to a practice started in about 1890 of distributing bread to the poor. Today however any alms given to those in need is often called "St. Anthony's bread". St. Anthony was canonized about one year after his death.
(from Martyrology, The Monastery of Christ in the Desert)

Lost articles; lost particles. Lost and found. We have lost our understanding of what home is and where home is. Home must be found where it is.

Each particle belongs in its own home.

Life is home. Birth gives a beginning and death gives a change. But life lost and found gives insight into life itself.

Life is itself.

Home.

Breathe!

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Silence reveals the birth of what is now taking place.

Silence is the sound of each thing as it is. No adding. No subtracting. We practice silence by allowing each person, each and every thing in existence, to be who and what they are.

Silence is moving into, through, and from itself. Silence is the presence of God with no interference of mind. Silence is brook and breeze at dawn opening the place of prayer we are.

Silence is what is holding us together. It is green of leaf. It is light blue of sky. It is deep brown of earth. Silence is caw of blackbird, squeak of squirrel, and trill of chickadee. It is sunlight leaning on rough wood beam at zendo porch. It is stillness sitting within meditation chapel.

Silence is itself.

Silence greets Saskia with simple bow on this anniversary of her birth .

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I say out loud, "Mr. Bush and friends are not greedy." Eyes watch to see if there is a punch line. There isn't.

The Zen Master in poem says,
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

(in "Please Call Me By My True Names," by Thich Nhat Hanh)

The monks’ nightly meditation quiets the peaks.
Here even shepherd boys know the Tao.
Woodcutters bring in world news.
They sleep at night in the woods
with incense, on mats clean as jade.
Their robes are steeped in valley fragrances;
the stone cliffs shine under a mountain moon.
I fear I will lose this refuge forever
so at daybreak I fix it in my mind.
People of Peach Tree Spring, goodbye.
I’ll be back when flowers turn red.

- Wang Wei (699-759)

I do not agree with those who say the current leadership in the United States is dangerously inching toward fascism and domestic repression of opposition. I think something else is happening.

Last night a car hit a deer on the road outside the hermitage. The woman driving immediately joined by two men in following cars talked about her car, collision insurance, annoyance of sudden appearance of hazards to free movement, and delay in appointed schedule for evening.

The deer lay on its side gasping breath, drops of blood dripping to road. Alone. Dying. Legs slowly attempting to take her somewhere else.

Someone called police.

Someone else came out; knelt at deer's side, hand on neck, in silence.

Two men in pickup stopped, one took out knife to slit throat, to, he said, put her out of her misery.

One last touch along neck, the person kneeling gets up, returns to hermitage leaving deer and others to do what they have to do.

In the United States right now each does what they have to do. Some drive. Some hit and injure. Some call for help. Some discuss their practical matters of economic cost and recouping losses. Some attend prayerfully the hurt and dying. Some take action to finish matters. Some arrive as official representative of legitimate authority to direct traffic, write report, commiserate, and distribute the spoils of carcass to hands that will benefit from its meat. .

Each has role.

Monks and nuns pray in monasteries and convents as politicians and military personnel plan and carry out geopolitical strategy and warfare in domestic and foreign matters.

People die. Some from cancer. There's a funeral for Ernie today. Others die from bullets, bombs, and hostile enemies. It happens today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Liberia, Africa, and towns and cities throughout Europe and America. We kill when we choose to eliminate what stands in our way or when we refuse to understand root connections.

It is not sufficient to say greed and power are the sources of inattentive and unkind behavior causing injury and death.

What is sufficient?

I must learn my true names, all of them. Until then, my heart is not yet capable of seeing and loving.

This is my prayer for Mr. Bush, myself, and all who wander this earth wishing to find peace and, ultimately, surrender within God.

May the car be repaired. May the flesh be enjoyed. May hostilities come to an end. May men and women, birds and deer, dogs and insects, fish and forests -- may each and all experiencing death be filled with grace and freedom returning to infinite, eternal source.

We will not lose our refuge.

We will be back – steeped in valley fragrances.

May life itself see to it!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Roethke wrote, "Many arrivals make us live."

Maybe departures make us empty.

A teacher once said we have to let go of everything -- even the bow from which we are rising and straightening.

Creeks and summits are brilliant at sunset.
I laze in a boat, my way in the wind’s hands.
Watching wild landscapes I forget distance
and come to the water’s edge.
Gazing at lovely far woods and clouds
I guess I’ve lost my way.
How could I know this lucid stream
would turn, leading me into mountains?
I abandon my boat, pick up a light staff
and come upon something wonderful,
four or five old monks in contemplation,
enjoying the shade of pines and cypresses.
Before the forest dawns they read Sanskrit.

- Wang Wei (699-759)(dailyzen)

I try not to hold onto the bows I make. Acknowledging with reverence another's presence by bowing is just that. Not bowing to be seen bowing. Not bowing to be respected for bowing. Not bowing to stay in the bow.

Just bowing. Then off with you!

Hugh C. sends yearly greetings in form of words about Ireland's Columba.
Fox and dove
Columba was born of royal stock around 521, in northwestern Ireland's Gartan, Donegal. Although destined for the church by an early age, his noble birth gave him insight and influence in the political world.

Legend tells us that his original name was Crimthann ("fox") and that when he was trained as a priest he changed it to Columb, ("dove"), later known to all as Colum Cille: "dove of the church." It has become something of a tradition in modern times to view the saint through the twin lenses of these names: the astute fox on the make, and the peacemaking and peaceable dove.

He apparently took part in a battle in 561 between his near and more distant cousins; this led to his exile and even excommunication for a time. Yet his biographer and successor, Adomnon[Eunan, also from Donegal and an abbot at Iorna], saw it differently, glossing over his excommunication, and telling us only that: "In the second year following the battle of Cul Drebene, when he was 41, Columba sailed away from Ireland to Britain, choosing to be a pilgrim for Christ."

Despite the skeletons in Columba's closet, his efforts in Scotland reveal a man who had learned much in his 41 years, enough to establish a string of monasteries in the Inner Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland. This monastic system anticipated later orders such as the Cistercians and Carthusians.

Iona, a small island off the larger Hebridean island of Mull, was the fertile centre of this system. Remote to modern eyes, Iona was at the hub of early medieval sea lanes that brought pottery and perishable goods north from France and the Mediterranean. Still, Iona was intended as a true monastery, a place set apart for Columba and his brethren.

Other island monasteries, such as one on Tiree, housed lay-folk serving out penances for their sins. Another island housed older, more experienced monks living as holy anchorites.

Iona, however, trained priests and bishops, and Columba's reputation for scholarship was great when he died (though we have little of his own work).From Iona, priests and monks ranged far and wide, founding churches in Scotland and [other foundations such as Lindisfarne] seeking "deserts in the ocean" (lonely, distant islands such as the Faroes and Iceland)
.
( Thomas Owen Clancy, from The Tough Dove, © 1998 in Christianity Today International/Christian History magazine. Issue 60, Fall 1998, Vol. XVII, No. 3, Page 22)

The heart is a desert in the ocean. Each heart is a monastery and a hermitage longing to be in solidarity and solitarity. Alone together, with others as oneself, (solitaire et solidaire), we crisscross oceans and continents in search of the Holy Breath of God.

When the heart begins to see, then, perhaps only then, we take our first breath

This is the sight of God -- to see all in creation breathing within the body of Christ. We are found with the sight of God when we see what is there with compassion and truthfulness. The heart waters eyes looking at and listening to the sweet reality of God in the world. Similarly, when the world turns against the sight of God, the cries and grief of those hurt by cruelty and indifference rise up arriving at our attention -- bringing us to bow in their presence, in the presence of God -- taking up where the sight of God is being forgotten.

Much abandonment makes us move. We move through what is no longer there to what is now emerging.

There is no need to renounce the world. There is need to pronounce what is creating the world before our eyes. There is the sight of God inviting hearts to dwell in the aloneness/wholeness that resides in every bow, in every eye and ear open to the sacred spirit infusing each and every one of us.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is only one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Bow.
Let go.
Rise.
Arrive.
Make us.
Live.

Monastic surrender sees one through.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

A solitary is someone only willing to be there if another is there.

Nothing more to say? Nothing left unsaid?

One doesn't have to be secluded from others to be solitary.

When truthfully and compassionately with another, there is solitude.

...scripture scholars generally agree that Jesus' admonition to not blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is a warning against sustained dishonesty and rationalization. Luther's one-line commentary, "sin boldly," captures the heart of that warning.(Ronald Rolheiser, in The Holy Longing, p.227)

It is Pentecost.

With the open, Spirit comes, and we go on, alone together.

Say nothing more.