The other evening several of the monks and many lay members attended a small art show in Yreka titled Women Who Know Alaska. One of the women is a regular attendee here at Shasta Abbey. We went to support her and her artistic endeavours.
After a fairly brisk look at the art on the walls I chatted sociably and then sat with an elderly woman on a window seat, the town of Yreka behind us. After the preliminaries, What’s with the hair thing? and Brown and purple, nice colour combination! we settled to chat. Story or in this case autobiography tumbled from her lips. The abridged version. I was not a passive listener, Oh yes, and how did you learn to walk again after the accident? and having been invited to feel the metal in her reconstructed knee, Yes the metal is close to the surface! Her lived-in face and hands spoke volumes, as did she.
The whole room was redolent with memory, animated memories through the art works, the people and specifically the elderly woman. It was as though all was animated wallpaper; to appreciate, enjoy and wonder at. To engage with wholeheartedly and without reservation. And silently, out of sight, is the knowing-without-knowing. Knowing the story, the multi-faceted, multi-coloured and textured surfaces in the room were fundamentally as passing smoke in blue sky or rocks and pebbles in clear running water. AND. And this is the wonder of engaging anywhere at any time, that the knowing-without-knowing is known through the animated wallpaper of events and circumstances of living.
For anybody who might be wondering the above is simply a creative way of talking about meditation in daily living. And, in particular, affirming that daily life isn’t the poor relative of *formal meditation.
*The word formal was added into this post on 30th October for clarification.