…the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Viktor Frankl
As a youngster I kept a book of quotes. I called it my Book of Wisdom. This is one I found and remember even now: We would do well to remember we live in the presence of constant choice. But that we would remember… Ah?
This is for the family I stayed with last night. It is not my attempt to teach more a way of acknowledging there collective wisdom. May you all go well and safely.
Note: It’s worth following that link to Viktor Frankl. He lived an inspired life and helped many who were in extreme circumstances.
Yesterday morning I ventured out into the bright morning sun here in Edmonton. Everybody is saying how wonderful the weather is, for the time of year. It’s indeed wonderful. Crisp and clear and golden with fall colours. So many people to re-connect with. And as I go through these days meetings are like precious beads on a rosary. (Not getting too mushy I hope.)
The first conversation I had yesterday was with two woman who stopped me on the street just along the sidewalk from where I am staying – near to Whyte Avenue. They had reflective vests on and looked official. I’d seen them already from an upstairs window talking to a woman sitting on a bench in the park opposite. The woman got up and moved away briskly after they had talked to her. Do I sense trouble? I thought. But no. Their mission was benign.
Do you have a place to stay tonight? one of them asked brightly. We are doing a community survey one added by way of an explanation. Yes, indeed I do! I replied and went on my way. So very many people are homeless in this city, a number live rough in the woods in the river valley through the harsh winter.
A monk wrote me wishing me well with my version of being a homeless monk . I think that term when applied to monastics is less about having an actual roof over ones head and much more to do with where one chooses to shelters in ones mind. In other words the idea is not to crouch comfortably uncomfortable in a place or position which has one locked up and unable to move on. In that sense we all can aspire to be homeless.
And with that, I’ll move on into the day. Postings may well be sparse for the next few days while I’m in Edmonton.
As dawn was breaking we were waved off by animals and a monk, golden autumn leaves carpeted the twisting graveled trail out to Botanie Creek Road. But moments after we launched we stopped. A rock in the road. My traveling companion inspected the rock and, climbing back into the drivers seat, muttered something about it being granite and easy. Another rock later on was not so easy. Not every day one travels with an explosives expert! Thus started a day of education. Not only, and briefly, on blowing up rocks but also local geology, trains and railways, road construction and much more. Enthralling to say the least.
So what might remain as a blur of roads and trees, trucks, cars and rest stops turned into…an education. Several times we stopped on our way through the Rockies to pick up rocks for show and tell at a class for children my friend is giving. Lucky children to be meeting a Harold of this world who will inspire them, as I have been inspired, to know the land we live in.
It was a long day and a good one, with a welcoming home at the end. Thank you to all.
Out of Portland. Early in the morning. Dare I say it, 5.30 am in the morning! Delivered two boxes of books and picked up three splendid meditation mats at Great Vow Monastery. We were given a tour of the buildings. Made bows, offered incense and then a gift as we were preparing to leave. What a gift. Swift and fleet of foot our gazelle like guide ran up the garden and returned with two ripe Asian Pears fresh from a tree. The image of this monk winging his way and the delicious fruit will be my main memory of this temple. Lovely temple too. Hearing the chanting of morning service as my traveling companion and I arrived in the dawn light is still in my ears.
Onwards into Canada. O Canada! I could break into song at the joy of returning to this country. In fact I think we did break into song but not O Canada. It went something like, I was born under a wandering star, wheels were made for rollin’, mules were made to pack. I never did see a town that didn’t look better lookin’ back. From Paint Yer Wagon, Lee Marvin.
Anyway here I rest for the night. Up a mountain, in a cabin. With an internet connection. Obviously.
There are always troubles. Sometimes big and sometimes little. We travel through life unstained. There is something at our center that isn’t troubled by what passes by us. That truth is true for all of us. We are all connected through the universality of mankind.
Spoken by Harold, the man at Walmart whose job it is to greet shoppers as they enter the store. Met him this day.
Three of us stood spell bound as this most humble of men quietly sat and talked to us. As we left I sat down on the bench beside him and thanked him for his wisdom. Joined by my traveling companions we said good by and put our hands together in what we call ‘gassho’, a gesture of recognition and gratitude. He did the same. He said ‘God Bless’, I said ‘God Bless’ and then we walked over to the car, climbed in and headed to Portland Priory.
We are indebted to the Harolds of this world. People who talk their truth with humility and with no intention to teach or enlighten. He just seemed to be happy to talk.
Thanks to my traveling companions for helping to remember what was said. It is but the gist of what took place.