Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Fog over everything. Harbor wrapped in it.

Jeanne talks about her older dog: "There's nothing left but the love." Therese brings donuts from Willow Street Bakery as donation. We set them out as donation to donut lovers. Here, bringing coals to Newcastle works.

The fog makes nothing clear.

I must strain to see
The few buds this old tree
Labored to open;
In pathos we're one, and I wonder
How many more springs we'll meet here.

- Saigyo (1118-1190)

Dirk brings in material for Festival of the Spirit. Sam, Hillary, and Susan catch up. Moose, the Black Lab, stops by and nuzzles head into biscuit basket before Therese calls him out.

Fog lowers into soul. Rain comes, fog lifts. Rain ceases, fog suffuses. Snow melts, mist rises.

Full moon tonight. A languid distance opens and closes as mud season runs ahead of itself. 'Raw,' Laurie said, 'damp and raw.'

By all calculations, spring nears. With Saigyo, in surround of fog we wonder, how many more springs we'll meet here.

Sam plays harmonica. A soulful solo. Afternoon drifts with outgoing tide. He plays "Going Home." Joanie reads Vegetarian Times.

Earlier this morning at "The Many Faces of Death" conversation, we read the words:
Our task is to find that pure love, and curiously it is death, or rather impermanence, that can help us. The reason we become so fiercely attached to things -- from our emotions, ideas, and opinions to our possessions and other people -- is that we have not taken impermanence to heart. Once we can accept that impermanence is the very nature of life, and that everyone suffers, including ourselves, at the hands of change and death, then letting go becomes quite natural.

With impermanence securely in our hearts, we'll see that if everyone were to realize its truth, then even in the thick of change and death and bereavement, we would not feel any great sense of loss. Our tears then would not be because death and impermanence are facts of life, but because of something much deeper: we would weep with compassion, because we'd know that all the pain and suffering we go through do not need to be there. They are only there in fact because we fail to understand that everything, absolutely everything, is transient.
(p. x, in Facing Death and Finding Hope, A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, by Christine Longaker, c.1997)

Jonathan writes that his grandmother died this week: "Grandmother passed away last night at 7:00 PM. Apparently in the last week she'd started to not recognize Martha and to slip away from whatever moorings were holding her in the present." There'll be cremation, a Mass, and in summer, burial in Arlington.

Peter and his companions had been overcome by
sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men
standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to
Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one
for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he
was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow
over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.

( from Luke 9:28b-36)

Fog lifts above islands out in the bay and lowers over Battie above town.

We enter the cloud.

For Peter, James, and John -- a voice was heard there. "After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone." (Luke)

In our cloud, nothing clear is discerned.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Marty and Michael stand in front of counter. Marty says he's a closet optimist. He drops off bookmarks. They contain the image he photographed of cloud and stone in Ireland, entitled "Pholl Na Bron Portal Tomb," (The Burren, Co. Clare).

The news from Iraq and Haiti is unpromising. What can we make of it? What do we make of ourselves?

Written at the dwelling of a recluse

Even though you have a brushwood door,
It hasn't been shut for a long time;
A few clouds, a few trees
Have been your only companions.
Still I suspect if you stay longer,
People will learn of this spot;
We'll see you moving
Higher on the mountain.

- Chia Tao (779-843)

Meetingbrook's laura tucks deeper into solitude. It is a laura peripheral to a center no one can see. It can be said with paradox and contradiction -- as we look there is no one there. No...one is here. Earth, water, air, and -- along with toasted English muffin, afternoon fire in hearth. Folks gather for 5:30 Wednesday Evening Laura Conversation.

Two words, idiorhythmic and laura, are found in a writing about Athanasius the Athonite, Abbot (AC):
Born at Trebizond c. 920; died c. 1003.

When he reached Mount Athos in 958, an old friend from Constantinople, Nicephorus Phocas, asked his help in preparing an expedition against the Saracens in 961. Phocas insisted on appointing him almoner of his fleet.

On its successful completion, Athanasius returned to Mount Athos and with money given him by a grateful Phocas began the first monastery on Athos in 961. Athanasius wanted to found a new kind of monastery, the so-called idiorhythmic monastery, where each inmate could follow his own rhythm and tempo. His hope was that anchorites, hermits, wandering monks, and cenobites could all live together in his laura.

When Nicephorus Phocas became emperor in 963, the year the monastery was dedicated, Athanasius fled to Cyprus to avoid being called to court, but the emperor found him, reassured him, and gave him money to continue his work on Athos.

It might perhaps sound as if they are indulgent to themselves and giving themselves too much personal freedom. But, in fact, the system confers heightened value on their virtuous acts, because they are done freely, and not out of constraint of obedience.

The idiorhythmic rule that Athanasius established was far in advance of his times--a radical departure from the customs of other monasteries. He made his monastery as little like a barracks as possible. He did, however, force his monks to read and study the Bible and one of his first concerns was to open a school next to the monastery.

(http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0705.htm)

School is leisure of conversation. Monastery is aloneness with the Alone. Laura is footpath connecting many points of view as they each look into what is core and central.

At laura conversation we read of Ryokan's tears -- his embodying of the felt reality of what surrounded him. Su.Sane, Robert, Jim, Suzanne, Sandra, Susan, Sylvia, Will, Joanie, and I looked at how we navigate the correction shaking the world -- turmoil and uncertainty -- while practicing core and central. "Love," said Su.Sane, "is the shaking chair." As in the film "Contact" the chair must shake loose and free before entering the dimension beyond surface, scientific, and calculable experience.

We begin to learn the prayer, "I'm good to go; I'm good to go!"

To let go, to surrender, to move beyond time -- into now.

"Froat flee," -- a new and wonderful slip of the tongue -- as we slip into maturity.

Bantu tribesmen, it is said, sneak into the rooms of their children as they sleep and whisper into their ears, "Become what you are!" (p.2, in Taking Our Places, The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up, by Norman Fischer, c.2003)

Martin Buber said, "All real living is meeting."

Meet well!

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

What is contemplative prayer?

Silence is a matter of no-sound. Just so, stillness is a slow showing of movement within itself.

Fragrance of late winter snow at melt-point under overcast midcoast Maine in early morning.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10 - 11

Sitting in rear pew after morning liturgy in Rockland church I realize I no longer know how to pray. So I say a prayer through found ignorance asking how to pray and for what. In the silence of abandoning solitude my eyes look toward altar and see glinting item on floor: Silver hand bell on top step behind altar -- teaching: remain silent and still, until invited to sound.

The pine tree's voice is always
Whispering,
Yet, how many pause to listen?
For when the churning mind is still,
the Diamond-Heart within
Reflects even the falling dusk that
shrouds every eye and branch,
And hears, but listens not.

Walking, then, with Courage
and Kindness,
never ceasing to walk in Wonder,
we follow our ancient path.
For the Way of the sword is
folded two;
Like the rose we have thorns,
and like the rose, we unfold.

- Ji Aoi Isshi (dailyzen)

The sword and thorns in morning news are showing themselves in Haiti and Iraq. It is no easy awareness trying to see the loveliness in bombs and bullets -- the veil of deceptive secrecy covering last year's invasion of Iraq with its ongoing chaotic manipulation, and the overthrowing of the elected government of Haiti with its current chaos and bloodshed. If this behavior is democracy's best foot forward off our shores, we must change our footwear.

Those of us sleeping through a revolution are troubled by the dreams terrifying those not in bed with us. It is noteworthy that there is the smell of duck, the walk of duck, the sound of duck -- indeed, a duck-revolution overthrowing this side of the pond and slowly imposing an ideology at odds with the founding philosophy of the land -- but very few dare call what they smell, see, and hear a duck. Quacking ducks are merely quacking ducks. The danger is when we refuse to call a duck a duck, instead -- we name what is happening a lie we can live with.

No wonder prayer disappears. Prayer is longing for truth, love, and the way of simple neighborliness. If that longing has been kidnapped and abused by polished smiling conditioning that encourages blind and rote acquiescence, then, truth, love, and the way of simple neighborliness has been stolen and we are destitute.

My prayer is to re-enter prayer. Prayer listens. What prayer hears...(and this is the difficult part)...belongs to the one praying to discern what is to become of prayer's grace.

Haiku on Prayer

Remain
Still &
Silent --

When called to
Sound,

Be what is
Being said...

(wfh)

No sound; movement within itself: the silence and stillness of contemplative prayer.

Surrender to this...prayer? Or, breakthrough this...prayer?

Outside kitchen window, small melted circles at intersecting ground where tree trunks on hill pass through snow!

Quiet residing in one's place.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Leap day.

Music people fold up their books. Len and Virginia talk about being former liberals. Joanie adds her point of view about feminism. Jim adds stick to fire.

On road to Rockland, outside sign on bank, temperature registered 44 degrees. Snow melts. Ice softens. Light and life begins to lengthen.

How can we ever lose interest in life?
Spring has come again
And cherry trees bloom in the mountains.

- Ryokan

No blooming yet in Maine. Only slight ice gathers and remains downbreeze in shade of northwest side of harbor.

Sylvia reads Deepak Chopra. Some words about Proust and nostalgia (Gk. nostos=home, algia=pain) echo from Eva's comments Saturday..

Chris and Kristin talk about stories -- all there is, is story. When we don't listen to another's story, we're not interested in our life. Their story is about our life, no matter the absence of reference to what we consider 'my' life.

What if there were no separate selves, no isolated, disconnected, un-united self?

If there is pain remembering home, the past, or how we think about the way things were, perhaps it is because we've so seldom really arrived home

Listen. The restless stories of seeds turning under ground are sounding themselves from hidden depths toward surface. There they breakthrough. What seemed like a boundary or border is transparency already shone through -- ready for our appreciatory realization. When we actually see, we are embodied appreciation.

We think we suffer for our beliefs; perhaps what we really suffer from is the belief that suffering is discrete, personal, and centered in our self. There is suffering in life -- this we observe. What if the suffering we experience -- the particular, personal story infected with sorrow and pain -- is not restricted to the boundaries of personal identity?

What if the suffering we experience is shared suffering -- emanating from distances and comprehension far beyond the definitions we impose? Anywhere someone is hungry, anywhere someone is mistreated, anywhere someone grieves loss or destruction -- if there is suffering anywhere, and we are alive, that suffering passes through us.

Is this the passion of Jesus -- writ large these days in film, meditated this Lent?

It is still light along the harbor.

From this day leaps everything!