Note: There will be no regular Saturday Morning or Sunday Evening Practice this weekend (9th-10th Aug). The chapel/zendo, as usual, is available for use.
So much to do in so little time. Arrive for Eucharist as woman invites our considering not being worthy. (I’m not, yet am.)
The New York Times from market on road from Westfield. Mrs Murphy’s dozen donuts at quite a reasonable price. Breakfast with the mother/daughter leaving for wedding seven hours away. Settling into dog-sitting, crows cawing, thunder darkening cool breeze after raising American and Canadian flags up pole.
Friday Afternoon of a BirthdayAll eights. Variations of fours, eights, beetles song, and hermitage address calculate this respite retreat with doggy solitudes up a rain ravaged driveway under canopy of tree in August.
Purple finch on barn red rail jumps to vacant feeder's green.
Hops to metal edge, looks in sliding door. Back to railing. Up again
to wooden bar's empty container. Looks in room. “Where? What?”
Calls once, whistles once, chirps then flies away.
(--wfh, 08.08.08, Southwick)
Philippe Aries, in a series of lectures he delivered at Johns Hopkins in 1973, and later published as Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, noted that beginning about 1930 there had been in most Western countries and particularly in the United States a revolution in accepted attitudes toward death.The use of mere detail enlivens.
“Death,” he wrote, “so omnipresent in the past that it was familiar, would be effaced, would disappear. It would become shameful and forbidden.”
(p.60, in The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, c.2006)
Halley's CometEverything red and green details our coming and going. Today, gratitude I've been here and not yet gone.
by Stanley Kunitz
Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk
across the board and told us
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills
with a wild look in his eyes
stood in the public square
at the playground's edge
proclaiming he was sent by God
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
"Repent, ye sinners!" he shouted,
waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think
that it was probably
the last meal I'd share
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me
and sent me early to my room.
The whole family's asleep
except for me. They never heard me steal
into the stairwell hall and climb
the ladder to the fresh night air.
Look for me, Father, on the roof
of the red brick building
at the foot of Green Street—
that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm the boy in the white flannel gown
sprawled on this coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky,
waiting for the world to end.
(Poem "Halley's Comet" by Stanley Kunitz, from Passing Through, W.W. Norton & Co., 1997.)
So Take a Look at Me NowThe quiet today is about nothing out there.
Sitting is essentially a simplified space. Our daily life is in constant movement: lots of things going on, lots of people talking, lots of events taking place. In the middle of that, it's very difficult to sense that we are in our life. When we simplify the situation, when we take away the externals and remove ourselves from the ringing phone, the television, the people who visit us, the dog who needs a walk, we get a chance--which is absolutely the most valuable thing there is--to face ourselves. Meditation is not about some state, but about the meditator. It's not about some activity or about fixing something. It's about ourselves. If we don't simplify the situation the chance of taking a good look at ourselves is very small--because what we tend to look at isn't ourselves but everything else. If something goes wrong, what do we look at? We look at what's going wrong. We're looking out there all the time, and not at ourselves.
(--Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen)