Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Christian Chapel Service goes into Psalm 130 (NIV):
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.


We're terrified about being forgiven, being accepted as who we are, sacrificed for, loved, and given a freedom beyond imagination and understanding. As so, we fear God. We're afraid of anyone forgiving us.

The operations of Heaven and Earth proceed with the most admirable order, yet they never speak. The four seasons observe clear laws, but they do not discuss them. All of nature is regulated by exact principles, but it never explains them. The sage penetrates the mystery of the order of Heaven and Earth and comprehends the principles of nature. Thus the perfect person does nothing, and the great sage originates nothing. That is to say, they merely contemplate the universe.
- Chuang Tzu

Contemplating the universe hardly seems like legitimate work. For cosmologists and poets, perhaps, but the rest of us have more quotidian tasks to perform -- stocking shelves, changing diapers, or ringing up sales. Contemplating God fits in this category. What to contemplate here? For that we'd have to ask: Where is God not?

Jesus Christ, although he shared God's nature, did not try to seize equality with God for himself; but emptied himself, took on the form of a slave, and became like a man -- not in appearance only, for he humbled himself by accepting death -- even death on a cross.
For this, God has raised him high, and given him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will proclaim "Jesus Christ is Lord", to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2

Emptying -- is grand work. Not try to seize equality, or extend our arm to lay hold of something, takes a rare stability.

To voluntarily empty is to accept death. Accepting death is accepting life. This acceptance is the true name of God.

With and in this name, we pray.

For all prisoners, their families, those they've harmed. For the staff and correction officers. For the society and culture that is concerned with care.

In the name of light and love.

We watch, with great interest, for the morning.

Attentive.

Crying for mercy.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The 10th anniversary of Meetingbrook Hermitage Bookshop & Bakery by the harbour.

A consecration and commitment to what is now taking place.

No one is absent and no one is ignorant.
This is a gathering of the Buddha-mind
That is given to us at birth.
When you return home,
Be mindful of all your daily matters,
Just the way you are listening to the teachings now.
Then you’ll be just living with unborn Buddha-mind.
Because of desire, we become stubborn,
Self-centered, and deluded.
This way we move away from Buddha-mind,
And become foolish.
Originally, no one is deluded.

- Bankei

10 Years
29 June 1996 – 29 June 2006

On this day, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Meetingbrook Hermitage’s Bookshop & Bakery at Camden Harbour.
~ ~ ~
INTENT OF MEETINGBROOK: Meetingbrook is a place of collation and recollection dedicated to open conversation & hospitality. We are a place between. Meetingbrook dwells in the thin place between all points of view, where universal respect for all expressions of faith or no-faith, and authentic inquiry into interreligious, interfaith, and interdenominational thought/experience is shared in a safe, hospitable environment.

Meetingbrook is recognized: 1) By the Federal Government as a 501C3 Public Charity (since 1998) as a Schola Gratiae et Contemplationis; 2) By the State of Maine as a tax exempt Religious House of Prayer (since 2005), and; 3) By the Mid-Coast community as a place where All events are free, open, and informal.

PROMISES & VOCATION: Today also celebrates Bill & Saskia’s taking solemn promises as Monastics of No Other, (mono). These public promises, first taken in 1998 and renewed yearly, embody our vocation within Meetingbrook Hermitage. These promises are Contemplation, Conversation, & Correspondence.

COMMUNITY COMMISSION: The community at Meetingbrook gathers today to recognize, affirm, and ordain Bill and Saskia’s vocation as a new form of religious life as hermit/monastics in the open. The hermitage is a place of prayer and learning in all traditions. A particular focus is the side-by-side practice and study of Buddhist Zen Meditation, Christian Contemplative Prayer, and the Engaged Service flowing from each.

~ ~ ~
On this day the gathered community acts to ground this vocation – as it has been lived, is now lived, and openly hopes to live – in and with this practicing community.

BLESSING: By touch of hand, prayer of heart, and intention of mind, the community assembled does indeed -- recognize, affirm, and ordain -- Bill & Saskia’s willingness to faithfully carry out the mission and spirit of Meetingbrook.
~ ~ ~
GRATITUDE: With gratitude for this gift, here and now, we thank each and all for your presence and ongoing support.

~~ With love – Bill and Saskia, Meetingbrook Hermitage, 29 June 2006 ~~

Embodying the dwell-place of the Alone;
Stepping aside to make room for another,

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tomorrow, June 29, is the 10th anniversary of Meetingbrook Hermitage Bookshop & Bakery at the harbour.

Before the eaves, slender bamboos,
A thousand stalks of jade, sing when the cool
Rains fall, with a rustling sound,
Their feathery green intruding at my desk-
They know there is no purer hidden spot than this.

- Isho Tokugan (1360-1437)

We like what a Bishop said several years ago -- a new form of religious life.

We like that the community holds the authority to recognize, affirm, ordain, and bless those who serve them and God in everyday understanding.

We like that we publicly solomnize promises that hold us to simplicity, integrity, and faithful engagement.

Many are saying, Who will give us good things?
Let your face shine on us, Lord,
let the light of your face be a sign.
You have given me a greater joy
than the others receive
from abundance of wheat and of wine.
In peace shall I sleep, Lord, in peace shall I rest:
firm in the hope you have given me.

(from Psalm 4)

The light of one's face will be a sign.

We long to become a sign that is read.

And the words?

"I am."

"With you."

"All ways."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

To be the way itself -- not on the way, or in the way.

People of the Way
Journey through the world
Responding to conditions,
Carefree and without restraint.
Like clouds finally raining,
Like moonlight following the current,
Like orchids growing in shade,
Like spring arising in everything,
They act without mind,
They respond with certainty.

- Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)

On our 10 anniversary of the bookshop/bakery we will join the community in declaring we are who we are.

Because God did not make death,
and he does not delight in the death of the living.
For he created all things so that they might exist;
the generative forces of the world are wholesome,
and there is no destructive poison in them,
and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
For righteousness is immortal.
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil's envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

--Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24, NRSV

Death is not to be who one is -- who we are.

No masks. No facade. No illusion.

Nothing corrupt.

God creates.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Elsewhere, 12 hour vigil ends in small Lincolnville UCC church. Here, under heavy rain, sitting on porch after zazen, shiny wet green leaves tell of their morning.

Resonance wanders within of Taize service at St Thomas' Episcopal last night after practice.

This is Monday morning.

Profound quietude delivered me
To the transparent moonlight.
After enlightenment one understands
That the Six Classics
Contain not even a word.

- Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529)

No word captures one's being what one is doing.

My heart was sore, my being was troubled --
I was a fool, I knew nothing;
I was like a dumb beast before you.
But still I stay with you:
you hold my right hand.
You lead me according to your counsel,
until you raise me up in glory.

For who else is for me, in heaven?
On earth, I want nothing when I am with you.
My flesh and heart are failing,
but it is God that I love:

(from Psalm 72 (73))

At Sunday evening practice, someone said they are seldom there doing what they are doing -- rather, mind has taken them down the road or to another time. They said they do not pay attention to the 'itself' of what is taking place.

Is this connected to our difficulty with experiencing God?
Not to give attention to the reality itself, as we are engaging and performing it, cuts us off from the power of Life Itself to reveal itself and us in full measure.

What is itself there presents itself through the unveiling of each present moment, each person, and every thing.

"It is" God.

"That" I love.

"This is."

Our life.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What is the meaning of the words "Let us cross over to the other side"?

In the account in Mark's Gospel, those on the boat intuited they were "going down." In a contemplative interpretation they were dropping down to the core of their being, to core of care, the bottomless depths of what we call God.

With the coming of evening that same day, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us cross over to the other side". And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, "Master, do you not care? We are going down!" And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Quiet now! Be calm!" And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, "Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?" They were filled with awe and said to one another, "Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him."
(Mark 4:35 - 41)

We can look beyond conjurer's accomplishment usually associated with the telling -- where wind and sea obey the invitation of Jesus to "Quiet now! Be calm!" -- to another way of looking, namely contemplative reflection. Contemplative looking might see the invitation referring to the journey of mind and spirit within us through worries and frets to a more profound traverse of God's loving passage through our reality -- both inner and outer.

We are often in turmoil, seldom in respite. Our mind needs rest. Our spirit, trust. Things are seldom what they seem to be. More likely, we have written a horror story that we become terrified of -- even as we continue its composition.

The raft, the other side, the shore -- these images invite us into the passage we long to make. We always begin, if we dare begin, in fear. As we continue we experience fear, not so much as a paralyzing thing, but as a companion slowly transforming into benevolent guide through the journey. It is a spiritual journey traversing one shore across ourselves to another shore beyond what we thought was ourselves. Beyond thought, beyond self -- the raft is abandoned -- we have arrived. Where? Home!

Where is home?

In 1974 Daniel Berrigan retreated to Paris in order to take time for personal healing and reflection. He had been intensely involved in resistance to the war in Vietnam, serving 18 months in prison for acts of protest. Thich Nhat Hanh was a native of Vietnam, a Buddhist monk and poet, active in the service of nonviolence. In 1974 he was living in Paris because his passage home had been denied due to his activism for peace. This book is the fruit of the encounter of these two contemplative social activists at that time and place.

[T]he core convictions of the authors continue to challenge the reader of this book to get on the raft and negotiate the current. Though the causes today seem far more ambiguous, the call to risky discipleship remains to be heeded. Still children die each day from lack of bread and basic medicine. Still women and children suffer at the hands of violent men. Nations continue to betray their sacred trust, favoring the powerful at the expense of the weak. In a globalized economy, responsibility has become so diffuse that we scarcely know where to turn. In many respects the way before us seems murkier and far less certain.

What remains impressive is to see through this book how Daniel Berrigan and Thich Nhat Hanh have stayed the course. Christian and Buddhist together, they inspire faithful and courageous activism rooted in a deep spiritual foundation. To join them on the raft means a dangerous ride.

(from Book Review, Currents in Theology and Mission, Dec, 2002 by Craig Nessan, Lutheran School of Theology and Mission. About, "The Raft Is Not the Shore: Conversations Toward A Buddhist-Christian Awareness." By Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan. Foreword by bell hooks. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001.)

The risky ride begins with setting off from our seemingly safe yet insufficient shore. We're meant to undertake the passage. It is our common calling. Our true home is in the passage -- and in all the embarkings that follow this one. Some have tried to teach us that the passage is God. Those who think of these things have long suspected that God has no beginning and no end. They contend it is beyond our ability to fathom God -- so immense, so intimate, so right here and now, as well as the one which is emerging with diverse unity through what is taking place.

Green Canoe

I don't often get the chance any longer
to go out alone in the green canoe
and, lying in the bottom of the boat,
just drift where the breeze takes me,
down to the other end of the lake
or into some cove without my knowing
because I can't see anything over
the gunwales but sky as I lie there,
feeling the ribs of the boat as my own,
this floating pod with a body inside it...

also a mind, that drifts among clouds
and the sounds that carry over water --
a flutter of birdsong, a screen door
slamming shut-as well as the usual stuff
that clutters it, but slowed down, opened up,
like the fluff of milkweed tugged
from its husk and floating over the lake,
to be mistaken for mayflies at dusk
by feeding trout, or be carried away
to a place where the seeds might sprout.

(Poem: "Green Canoe" by Jeffrey Harrison from Feeding the Fire. Sarabande Books)

This morning, for me, the crossing is contemplative life. It is the sounds of nature, of mourning dove bird call, of the click click click of woman cutting vegetables, of vehicles passing along road, of mountain green stillness outside my window. The crossing is finding quiet now and stillness here in the passage through the core of the presence of God in unfolding reality.

We often say with intuited awareness -- "Who can this be?" -- when we find ourselves face to face with the mystery of God's emergence.

Where seeds might sprout.

Carrying us away.

Through God.

Is home.

Here.