A Wider World

Elk Island National Park is an hours drive East of Edmonton. It was wonderful to be out in open country, to breath in the air, drink in the sights and generally relax and recharge. The trails were closed apart from one or two that had been ‘groomed’ for cross country skiing. Walking on them is similar to walking on a soft sandy beach, heavy going.

I was on high alert since there are bison abroad which are said to be unpredictable; they may charge, or not. Signs beside the road warn, “Do not approach the Bison” Not likely! The Elk are also prone to charge if caught unawares. The ones I saw were shy and quickly bounced off after seeing me. Other wild life spotted; a few birds pecking out a living, the odd squeaky critter in the brush and a man on a snow plow. The lake, with Elk Island in the middle, was held in frozen stillness. I was tempted to walk out across the ice to the island, however wisdom won.

It is all too easy to become stale and dusty staying in the ‘known’. So it was good to make the effort to get out of town into the wider world. As it happens I’ve a couple of anniversaries coming up and, spurred on by several members of the congregation, I decided to celebrate them with Rev. Master Koten and his disciple over in Vancouver. For somebody who travels quite a bit I can be surprisingly reticent about packing and leaving. I fly on Friday and return the following Saturday. So, in a few short days, I’ll be up in the sky with the birds and will probably not be making regular postings while away.

Grasses ‘n snow.

Elk family taking a look see.

Late afternoon, the lake is to the right.

When I get the time I’ll publish my snow photos on Flickr.

Sunday Special – Cold Snap

By this time of the week I’m generally good for nothing very much in the blog writing department. However I’ve a store of photographs to share, here’s the first ‘Sunday Special’.

How to survive an Edmonton winter.

This picture first appeared just over two years ago on the Edmonton Priory website, we were having -30c weather at the time. Now it’s just -15c, a mere nothing.

Blogisattva Award Winners Announcement

It’s the Acadamy Awards night down in ‘LA’ and the Blogisattva Awards day in the Buddhist blogging world. Here are the results.

Click the title of this posting.

The Way Back Home

Four young women came from out of town for meditation instruction this morning. I received a worried phone call about 45 mins. before they were due here at the priory. “We are lost, we don’t know where we are, can you give us directions”? It turned out they were about 7 mins. drive away.

As they were leaving for their home town I asked their navigator if she knew which way to go. She smiled happily and said, “I know the way back, now I know where I am”! I’ll remember them, and I’ll remember that statement too.

What Big Teeth You Have

Getting close up and personal with a bear can be salutary. They look like an animated ‘teddy bear’ from ones childhood, a much bigger version though. It is all too easy to loose sight of the fact that they are creatures of the wild, when they look so cute and cuddly. One thing is clear when near one; they have big claws, big teeth and powerful rippling muscles under their soft coats.

After my close encounter I found myself getting really interested in bears; the danger they are drawn into by following their noses to human habitation for fast food, their wilderness home eroding and migration routes cut off. Yes, I really got into that. Somebody suggested I submit the photo, on yesterday’s blog, to the local newspaper, “hay, look what came to our place yesterday”! So I did, and it was published.

I wrote a piece to submit with the photograph, the words coming easily as I was inspired by the subject. Then, as we do within the Sangha, I ran the writing past a senior monk and I was brought up short. In a kindly way I was reminded that while the cause was real and good, my involvement was not. I deleted what I’d written and sat still. The ‘not good’ was connected to my vocation as a priest within my particular Order. We do not include overt social action in our practice, concentrating primarily on living a Preceptual life with Compassion and the offering of the merit of this to all beings.

The very many lessons I learnt arising out of this incident was that I enjoyed writing about matters that inspire me. And, I needed to look at the intent behind writing and run that past the Three Pure Precepts. Regularly!

Here is the beginning of a well-known prayer; it speaks of action. Each of us walk a unique path, the task is to recognize and respond to the path we find ourselves on…and not try and walk somebody else’s.

The Serenity Prayer

Please grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

This book helped transform my fear of big bears, and also become better educated about them too.