Saturday, January 01, 2005

Meetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery is closed today. We will re-open Saturday, 8Jan.05


Comes 2005.
Names and numbers take different form.
May all beings be happy, safe, and come to dwell in their true home.

Friday, December 31, 2004

So ends 2004.

South Asia suffers the after-effects of land and water's sudden shudder.

A sober watch falls over everyone so recently content to point fingers and mock any difference of opinion.

Help the living. Bury the dead. Re-think the precarious impermanence of everything.

I join my hands and bow to the place in each of us compassion dwells.

Nothing is hidden. Everything is, and will be, revealed.

We must change our lives.

Happy New Year!
Meetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery is closed today. We will re-open Saturday, 8Jan.05

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Frank, brother-in-law, died yesterday, the 29th.

I knew he was placed on life support. I was writing the following piece to his son and step-daughter, to lighten their load. As it turned out, I was writing the ending of the piece at the very time he died. I sent it by email, but not before catching up with emotion at the last two phrases of the dialogue.

--- --- ---
Hello my favorite niece and nephew -- actually, my only ones (at that):

Your dad is in our prayer. At church this morning I mentioned his name specifically.

"Who?" came a voice.
"Frank Bonfiglio," I answered.
"Frank, Frank Bongiglio...?"
"No," I clarified, "Frank BonFiglio."

"Oh, Oh yes," the voice went on, a bit distracted. "We had him listed under the category 'You toucha my truck, I breaka your face.'" "Well, yes," I answered, "that was a phase of his past, but only a phase."

"Oh yes," said the voice, "here he is again, cross-referenced under the dialogue: 'Frank! Let's go shopping!' 'Okay, kid, get in the car.'" The voice paused. "There are innumerable entries under that dialogue."

"Look, forget about the folders you have on the guy, all I want is some acknowledgment he will be recognized in prayer. Will he?"

"Yes, yes," the voice said, "we'll forward the request to the proper attending angels who will swoop down to his side where he lays abed."

"Thank you," I said, "You're attention is appreciated. "And I also..."
... "Ah, Mr Halpin?"
"Just one thing."

"Do you want to cancel your complaint regarding some stolen hubcaps you registered aloud to an unheeding sky about ten years ago?"

[Pause. Rumination. Deep thought.]

"Yes, of course, yes. My comments were only a playful complaint. After all, they did have a 'B' on the hubcap, and he is from New York, and his name is 'Bonfiglio' -- so naturally he felt they were his hubcaps. And besides, it was only a rusted junker at the foot of a mountain in Maine. I didn't even notice them on the car. He did. End of story. Yes, cancel that complaint."

"Good," said the voice. "That relief from his immortal soul will make his remaining time on earth lighter and more carefree. I'll let the angels -- hmmm, they're already in his room, playing with the lights on the monitors and sampling the toast on the trays in the hallway -- I'll let them know to comfort his mind and soul that all is forgiven and soon to be forgotten. Right?"

"Forgotten...Of course, forgotten. Er...What were we just talking about?"
"Oh, nothing. Nothing at all."

[Remembering something, as from a while back]
"OK. Prayer. Oh yeah, prayer -- we send him our prayer."

"Done!" said the voice.
"OK," I concluded.

[Gazing out window to where light wisp of smoke rises from wood stove chimney]

"OK...Frank --"

[Longer pause]


--- --- ---
That's it. I finished, pressed "Send/Receive," and went back to reading student papers.

Lori Ann called 29 minutes later to tell me, "It's over, he died."

I sat a while in silence, and I acknowledged, recognized, and appreciated the prayer of what had just taken place.

Returning with dogs from brief ceremony in chapel and further up the path, I wrote the following:

(for Frank Bonfiglio)

One stick of incense
placed on old Buick near brook --
fresh deer track in snow


Sunday, December 26, 2004

I saw my family this morning.

Cesco and I walked the wide loop up from hermitage, across four runways of snow-making blow, through woods fresh with dusting through the night, down along ravine over towards Tom's place, and back to where brook returns to itself. I sat there on jerry-rigged bench watching tumbling water skirting ice-fingers reaching from stone frost.

At a private gate,
A light snow falls;
Here the quietist's "scheme"
Is perfectly achieved.
Meditation proceeds
Through the day;
Only lone peaks
Compare in purity.
I'm at ease
In this insignificant dream;
Fir and bamboo
Stir in the cold.
There's only one old man
On West Peak,
And when we meet,
His eyes shine clear.

- Kuan -Hsiu (832-912)

We met no one. Cesco was bright-eyed. He turned time to time to see if I was still with him. I was. I followed his prints etched in snow over root and leaf path through bare trees.

Bless the Lord, you heavens; all his angels, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, you waters above the heavens; all his powers, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, sun and moon; all stars of the sky, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, rain and dew; all you winds, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, fire and heat; cold and warmth, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, dew and frost; ice and cold, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, ice and snow; day and night, bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, light and darkness; lightning and storm-clouds, bless the Lord.

(from Daniel 3)

This is my family. This, and all the people passing through heart and mind on morning walk. This is my prayer, this holy family of all existence.

Back at chapel/zendo, I bow to image of Mary, Joseph, Jesus leaning before statue of Buddha in silent adoring inclusion of one another.

In kitchen, Mu-ge licks lingering scent of skunk along his fur into the air. Cesco has his off-switch on shut-down laying stretched along grey rug. Wood-stove re-catches as English muffins defrost and coffee sits fresh-brewed.

(Hyphens hold together while proclaiming distinctiveness.)

Distinct is this family I see.


For seeing this, I am grateful!