Saturday, May 02, 2009

I gave the invocation, the president of the university gave the address, Tina gave a poem, and a skiff-rowing nursing student gave her story; the graduates got a packet and a handshake, then got a hug from Beverly. It was over by post time in Churchill Downs. 

What I point out to you is only that
You shouldn't allow yourselves 
To be confused by others.
Act when you need to,
Without further hesitation or doubt.
People today can't do this.
What is their affliction?
Their affliction is in their 
Lack of self-confidence.
If you do not spontaneously 
Trust yourself sufficiently,
You will be in a frantic state,
Pursuing all sorts of objects 
And being changed by those objects, 
Unable to be independent

- Linji (d.867)

By and large we study not so much for credentials to get better pay. We study to remember what we've forgotten. We've forgotten some things important.

Our names. Our manners. Where we live. The cabinet where tuna cans are kept. 

Later, delivering bakery case to young man, an artist, we watch a woman stop her car, walk up driveway, say she wants to buy house for sale overlooking Rockport Harbor, then go inside for tour. She's from Sausalito with Texas twang. Says she wants a house here in Maine. She'll grab that one. She can. She can if she wants to.

Remember your name.

Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.

Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped

to help you in their turn.

Trust dreams.

Trust your heart, and trust your story.

Then five lines later:

When you come back, return the way you came.

Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.

Do not forget your manners.

Do not look back.When you reach the little house, the place your

journey started,

you will recognize it, although it will seem

much smaller than you remember.

Walk up the path, and through the garden gate

you never saw before but once.

And then go home. Or make a home.

And rest.                                                                                                                                                (Ending of poem Instructions, by Neil Gaimon, on the occasion you find yourself living in a Fairy Tale) 

Sadie and Rokie ran like crazy-heads all day as we prepared Linda's truck for dump run. 

Somebody had tossed my water-stained copy of poems bought in 1970 in NYC. It was Hayden Carruth's editing of The Voice That Is Great Within Us, American Poetry of the Twentieth Century. There it is -- I find it in a box as we sort cardboard at recycling bins. It is all brown-edged and tape-shrouded -- calmly comported, it seems, at guillotine, holding its words within. I lift it out, take it back. It rides with me on front seat to Rockland like Euridice making transient return with Hermes.

I'm not that far gone yet that poetry can be disposed of. Even if not dispensed. Never displaced. 

William Carlos Williams is still looking Between Walls. Later, in The Act, pleading for roses in the rain not to be cut: 
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she  
and cut then and gave them to me 
            in my hand.
The woman fetching mail at curbside in bathrobe does not live in this book.

It is late. 
It is time.

To rest.

Friday, May 01, 2009

At 1:55AM, room empty, final truck load tied down for transfer station, we complete the circle of 13 years by sitting against opposite walls in diffuse light with silence.
In middle of this swept room, in jar with water, 3 daffodils lean akimbo and gather the years, faces, names, and prayers unto themselves. In our stillness reflecting the stillness of an ending, we honor the memories, faces, names, and prayers making presence with us.

We chant Nunc Dimittis (Now you may dismiss us) and bow the several directions to all our brothers and sisters, in gratitude

The note placed under jar of flowers read:
 We wish you well.
Bill & Saskia 
Outside, in the green Element with "Now" tags, amid the yellow garbage bags filled with time, Rokie is asleep after 17 hours of playing with all the help.

We lock the doors, touch the side of the building, look over railing at rolling tide against floats, kiss, get in truck and car, and inch away toward hermitage.

Cookies and Kefir, Bishop's Bread and water, and to bed at 3AM.

Three hours sleep later, we begin again, a new day, driving  to Maine State Prison for Meetingbrook Conversations. 

The poem we read in 1st pod is "Instructions" by Neil Gaimond for those who find themselves living in a Fairy Tale.

We need them. 

Because we have been.

And are.

Living in one.


In 2nd conversation in Tony's tutoring room in Education wing, we read Stephen Mitchell's translation of #22 in Tao Te Ching:
If you want to become whole, 
let yourself be partial. 
If you want to become straight, 
let yourself be crooked. 
If you want to become full, 
let yourself be empty. 
If you want to be reborn, 
let yourself die. 
If you want to be given everything, 
give everything up. The Master, by residing in the Tao, 
sets an example for all beings. 
Because he doesn't display himself, 
people can see his light. 
Because he has nothing to prove, 
people can trust his words. 
Because he doesn't know who he is, 
people recognize themselves in him. 
Because he has no goal in mind, 
everything he does succeeds. When the ancient Masters said, 
"If you want to be given everything, give everything up," 
they weren't using empty phrases. 
Only in being lived by the Tao can you be truly yourself. 
One last thing. Before we left the space where Meetingbrook Bookshop and Bakery dwelled these last 13 years, we toll the bell from Tibet our dear departed friend Richard had given us, take down and read the sign our Friend Diane calligraphed for us twelve days after we opened the doors in 1996  -- "God spoken here" -- and that was that.

We treasure these things.

Because we have been.

And are.

En route.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dawns final day at 50 Bayview by the harbor. Saskia has been manager and managed the move with grace and kindness. Many have come to help -- sorting, packing boxes, dismantling shelves, the dust, the grime, the cleaning, tossing catalogues and papers, taking down paintings and posters, lugging to pick-up trucks, unloading at barn, assembling shelving, labeling boxes, finding an inch here, a stacking balance there, banging fingers, aching backs, mind and memory attentive to what is passing through.
Attain the center of emptiness,
Preserve the utmost quiet;
As myriad things act in concert
I thereby observe the return.
Things flourish,
Then each returns to its root.
Returning to the root
Is called stillness:
Stillness is called return to Life,
Return to Life is called the constant;
Knowing the constant is called enlightenment.
- Tao-te Ching
A final circle silence and words amid strewn remains last evening at final abbreviated standup version of Wednesday Evening Conversation, We remember fondly the delights and difficulties, blessings and annoyances of the 13 years -- those who've come and gone, come and stayed, come and gone beyond into the extended community of the living and the dead.

Earlier, the new owner, whose own preferences toss us out, stops by to bemoan the difficulties of those with means, not unlike himself, practicing a Nietzschean will to power. Saskia listens. For a brief intake of breath. Even there -- the promise is tried. Our accommodation of poverty... is... trying.
Over the Edge
Through the disciplined precision of our efforts, we’ll come again and again to our edge—the difficult places beyond which we’ve previously been unable to move. Through the willingness to soften and surrender to what is, we learn that we can gradually move beyond that edge. It is only through this interplay of hard and soft, of effort and letting be, of will and willingness, that we learn to our amazement that we can emerge from the lifelong tunnel of fear that constitutes our substitute life into the nitty-gritty reality of our genuine one. (–Ezra Bayda, from Being Zen: Bringing Meditation to Life, Shambhala)
These last weeks, the many hours and hands of O'a, Jayen, Rosie, Linda, Patricia, Sam, Susan, Jay, Tommy, Dirk, Tom, Justin, Michael, John, Myles, Annie, Dean, Nathan, Robert, Su-Sane, Cheryl, Nancy, Jory, Silvia, Billy, Maggie, Jeff, and Leslie, the in and out others, have lent their time and skills to us, and even those offers of help, or thoughts, or prayers -- even those who mourn or rejoice unseen and unheard near and away.

The final sign we will take down as we exit tonight is Diane's calligraphy: God spoken here.

Sunrise slants in Wohnkuche windows. I light candle and incense in both winter quiet room and out in chapel zendo. We'll be moving our meditation times back to cabin tomorrow, 1 May. Brook still runs strong. The recent deluges and flood torrents have changed the volume flow from one branch of the brook to the other -- the smaller taking the new run-off, the two planks of bridge nearly swept away, but holding fast, a bit skewed -- and we note the change.

We are not the change.

Change is naming us.

So we attend.

And move.

With gratitude.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

   Meetingbrook        Dogen & Francis           Hermitage

Between Ragged and Bald Mountains; Between Buddhist and Christian Traditions   

               V  I  S  I  T         M  E  E  T  I  N  G  B  R  O  O  K         H  E  R  M  I  T  A  G  E                    



On 1May2009 Meeetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery returns to origin and source at Meetingbrook Hermitage on Barnestown Road at Ragged Mountain. From 29June1996 to 30April2009 Meetingbrook had a market face to its hermitage vocation. The bookshop and bakery existed as a place of hospitality and conversation at the harbor in Camden. The building we were leasing was sold in Spring 2009, we lost our lease, and have folded back home. 

We need new forms of being-with one another, a cosmotheandric spirituality, one that celebrates union with God & unity with Earth, Nature, & all Sentient Beings.

Meetingbrook Hermitage is a contemporary lay monastic practice & place of collation & recollection.  A  monastic is someone who longs for a simple and inclusive communion with life, love, and wisdom. We invite visitors to attend the times of these practices of conversation, meditation, and hospitality.  These 3 practices, often interchangeable, inspire radical originality. 

Blend and comprehend what, scattered, aches for wholeness.

To listen, to speak, & to be aware of the silence and stillness which are the ground of our presence in the practice of conversation, meditation and hospitality -- this is how we practice. We continue hospitality and conversation along with mindfulness practice in our newly transformed ‘Wohnkuche” (living-in kitchen). The Waterford wood stove is encircled by comfortable chairs and seating for at least 14 people with room for more. There will be coffee, a kettle for tea and hot chocolate, along with offerings of Saskia’s baked goods accompanying the gatherings.

Here is One - 

Another Itself.

With our chapel/zendo cabin just up from the barn, quiet meditation room in the house, and soon to-be retreat cabins, we continue our practice inviting the larger community to stop by and join in as you wish. Books & gifts are available from our online collection to purchase, as well as a large lending library. Baking goods waft the grounds. Bakery orders are taken. Stop by, sample.        

May all words and every silence engage us in deep listening and loving speech!


 Meetingbrook Conversation Practice: these are an hour long each evening, & comprise of      

  three parts: a time of reading around or sharing experience of personal journeying;  a brief  

             silence; an open time of conversation followed by a concluding final circle.  

 Meetingbrook Meditation Practice: these comprise of three parts: silent sitting; walking, 

reading, chanting;  collation and conversation.

 Wednesday Morning Open Hospitality: 8:00am-10:30am. Come by for breakfast. 

 Sunday Noon Open Hospitality:12:30pm to 3:30pm. Come by for brunch or just coffee   `       

             and tea. Catch up with neighbors, friends, or strangers. 

All events at Meetingbrook are, free, open, and informal.

 Quarterly Retreat Days: All day mindfulness retreat practicing looking, listening, & silence 

 Quarterly Festivals of Art, Music, Poetry, and Eco-spirituality: Gathering celebrating the seasons.

 Here’s the schedule for conversations and meditations. Conversations are 5:30pm-6:30pm

 Tuesday Evening Conversation: Theme: Buddhist: thought, meditation, and practice.

 Wednesday Evening Conversation: Theme: Personal: paths/practices, delights/ difficulties,

 Thursday Evening Conversation: Theme: Christian: thought, contemplation, & practice.

 Friday Evening Conversation: Theme: Creativity & Peace: the ways of art, spirituality, 

music, peace-making, poetry, and nature. Also a night for films and performances.

Meetingbrook’s promises are contemporary versions of the traditional counsels of poverty, chastity, & obedience. Ours are called contemplation, conversation, & correspondence. They encourage us to look, to listen, and to respond with oneself.

 Saturday Morning Practice: 7:00am - 8:30am  Involves: silent sitting; reading from different scripture or sacred text Lectio style; speaking to what is heard; collation at table.

 Sunday Evening Practice: 6:00pm - 8:00pm  Involves: silent sitting; walking meditation; 

chanting; table reading; mindful eating in silence soup, bread, and dessert; conversation.  

Collation is literally “to bring together”; an offering of  light fare to eat & drink.

 Recollection is a tranquil recalling to mind -- remembering who we really are. 


Our personal practice focus involves the Buddhist Meditative, the Christian Contemplative, and the Engaged Service flowing from both. Our wider interest is keen and open,  inviting all interreligious or nonreligious exploration and inquiry into wonder & wholeness,

Love one an-other;   for, when we do,   there is no-other.

Visit the hermitage anytime to converse, be silent, laugh or cry, be mindful or explore no-mind.. Let’s  learn with one another in a spirit of profound humility. We look forward to engaging such community of being-with-care that is ordinary, accepting, & forgiving. 

May the heart/mind of the Christ & the Bodhisattva deepen our lives & ground us in service that is diverse, practical, diffuse, & real, 

 Donations to Meetingbrook are always gratefully accepted & happily received.  

Hermitage is 4 miles from town center: Mechanic St into Hosmer Pond Rd into Barnestown Rd. 

We’re 3rd driveway on left past Snow Bowl. You’ll see barn gate (open it), oar, & “M” on post. 

We encourage you in your practice and prayer. Let us be with one another in heart and mind

See you soon,            

Saskia and Bill,  m.o.n.o.  (“monastics of no other.” )

Embodying the dwelling place of the Alone; Stepping aside to make room for Another

64 Barnestown Road, Camden Maine 04843    207-236-6808