Facing Death

Here is part of a message I received from a sangha friend in Canada.

I had a dream about you this morning. I found myself in a big, beautiful, sun-drenched house. Someone was dying, so I found the bedroom they were in. The bed was surrounded by people singing the person off to the other side. I thought, I must make friends with people who sing well so this can be done for me. You were around, doing something official. Afterward, you hosted a lunch for everyone, with gift bags filled with flowers and incense and little pictures you had made. What a lovely way to face death, eh?

Glad to be of service, in your dreams at least!


My Internet connection has slowed to a slow crawl. So for the time being I’ll be posting via e-mail and may not be able to get on line to respond to comments.

Evening Magic

Sometimes the evening sky is magical. Tonight it was thus. Perhaps my view was coloured by the film we have just watched. In the fading light, walking the lane back to our rooms, we chatter softly. There is change in the air.

We are switching gears, moving from full days with many guests towards full days with even more guests, for a short while. Then? The fall monastic training term. Nights drawing in, drawing in already. And come September 20th I’ll have been here one whole year.

So with a whiff of joy and sadness mixed together, they are so close, we switch gears. The year is always turning, transforming, moving. Ever renewing.

The Bagdad Cafe is magical, in more ways that one.

A Toast to Family Gatherings


Here’s to family gatherings,
And all that it implies,
The laughs, the embraces, and
The muffled, unheard cries.

What better time for karma
To show it’s dynamic hand,
Than when we gather ’round the fire
With our tiny human clan.

So, here’s to watching silently
Amidst the jubilee,
As we allow ourselves (and others)
Just to simply be.

This poem was sent by Jim, a regular reader of this blog, who was inspired to write following a phone conversation we had about families and family reunions. Many thanks Jim, much appreciated.

As with this family of tiny wild pansies so with human gatherings-one or a few in any gathering will feel at odds with the rest, from time to time. Perhaps somebody will turn aside for awhile, or flag a bit, or get distracted with other things, or… Even so it is a time just to simply be with what ever is happening.

We are preparing for a week long monastic gathering starting September 3rd. Postings from now on are likely to be less regular because my energies and focus need to be directed closer to home.

The Heartsease were photographed on a walk near Alston. Apparently an infusion of the plant was said to help mend a broken heart, hence its common name Heartsease.

Training a Tree the Bonsai Way

I must admit that I was attracted, initially, because this little plant looks well, ‘unusual’. That’s the kindest I can be. On Monday on my third visit to IKEA in as many weeks, I’d definitely decided against buying. But I weakened. A forest of them had been shunted into a siding, they were obviously on their way out. Feet first! Neglected, soil dry as a bone and the leaves were falling fast. How could I not change my mind? If I’d been my mother I’d have asked for a reduction in price, to take one off their hands.

Last evening while researching how to care for my new found friend I discovered, with some horror, that I was now in the presence of a Bonsai tree! The instructions repeat, many time, ‘this plant is totally reliant on you for it’s care and survival’. Somehow this fact has captured my attention on more than the every-day way of caring for a plant.

It is a symbol of so much that comes with having disciples. The joys and sorrows and the constantly being there for them. The heart connection that grows comes from care and attention, tenderness and benevolence. It’s a two way street too. So I’ll embrace what I’ve come upon, by accident or…no I’ll not go there.

I only hope I find somebody to advise me on how to train it! At the moment the branches look a bit of a sad mess.