The Compassion Of Animals

Edera of Little House In the Paddy continues her reflections. Today she remembers the hours immediately before and after her husbands death. The cat referred to below was, of course, Orlando (The Marmalade Cat)! Apparently he is actually a she! No matter. The compassion and tenderness of this creature is breath taking. I’m so glad she came across the road to sit vigil, early morning on the 14th July.

Around 3.30, with my heart racing, I waited outside our front door. Then a cat appeared from the dark and snuggled against my legs. When I sat down on the doorstep she jumped on my lap which was very comforting. She was purring softly and when I looked at her face, I thought she looked quite like our old cat Tora. At that moment I had a slight fear that Iain was visiting me to say good-bye.

I’d like to be able to say something about these reflections on Little House however I’m rather too close to the process to say anything useful. Or coherent.

Thank you for the notes encouraging me to write about Buddhist ceremonial and the steps needed to be taken generally following a death. I’ll do that when I can. Thank you for your messages of support too. All much appreciated.


Cat Hat on my bed

My heart missed a beat this afternoon. For the world I thought for a moment a cat had found its way up to my bed. But no, this furry object is actually a civilian style Russian rabbit fur Ushanka (lit. ear hat). Inherited today.

I though it should go to a caring home, not so sure I’ll be wearing it in public though! In the mean time it can pretend to be a cat. Happy about that.

A Long Shadow

By the end of the day; ready to rest, relax, sit for a bit and then turn in. These summer nights the light doesn’t fade from the sky until nearly 10.00 pm. With skylights I can watch the grey/blue turn to navy blue, some nights the stars shine in. There is something about an attic room that can’t be matched, and at the moment my room is at the top of the house. Ah, attics! When the light has faded and all is still I’ve been inclined, these past days, to stay with the stars. If not the stars then deep sleep into the morning has become my habit.

I’ve been thinking about documenting what happens when a Buddhist dies. Specifically what happens to the body; the practicalities around disposal and the ceremonies we do in my particular Buddhist tradition to do that with due dignity. And I’ll hopefully get down to that now I’m rested and settled.

There is no doubt about it a sudden death is a shock to the system, what ever the circumstances of the death happen to have been. The shock, rather like an echo, reverberates for quite some time. Even after the last strains have faded, which to a large extent they have for me, there still remains a certain something. A long shadow perhaps, cast by a presence no longer there.

Edera continues to write for Little House, at the moment documenting the days leading up to her husband’s death. Some days she takes a break and writes about this day. I know already that these past weeks, as we sift and sort our way through our days together, will leave a deep impression on both of us. One grows close in adversity.

Good Question

Ewbank Scar, a pleasant ramble.

We had already said the five thoughts and were tucking into lunch. Edera spoke, Rev. Mugo are you enligh…. I thought, Oh crikey! Pausing a moment she said, No, that’s not quite the way to put it. A wide ranging conversation ensued; enlightenment (sudden and gradual), staying alive, original enlightenment, why Dogen went to China, 12th century Japan, the difference in meaning between accepting and receiving. Ah, what a good conversation.

Later. Much later. Edera and I go over her today’s post on Little House. I tend to go by how written words sound when spoken. The music of speech, on the page. And the rhythm. That’s the rhythm of a sentence which is beaten out by commas sprinkled here and there. And I want to know about the proper use of colons and semi colons. she said. Oh they are about being able to list lots of thoughts one after the other, divided by commas, so you don’t need to make lots of sentences. I could almost hear Iain, wordsmith as he was, groaning or growling. But actually that’s not a bad explanation for a semi colon.

Much, much later we talk about the vital importance of commas, when to put them in and when not to. See here a joke about poor punctuation:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

‘Well, I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’

Less is best as far as commas are concerned. But I do like the way they add a da, DAH emphasis at the end of sentences. Let’s have more lunchtime conversations, please.

Little House Lives On

Little House in the Paddy is the place where Iain shared his ideas and kept records of his life in Japan. Writing for it was usually his first job of the day, with a cup of coffee beside him. Even when he was taken into hospital, he told me to let readers know what had happened. He would be glad, I think, for me to keep posting. The ideas will be very different, because it’s from me.

Now is the time to tell my side of the story about life in leafy Chiba-ken.

A New Beginning – Edera at Little House In The Paddy.

This step to continuing Little House is no small thing. Every success Edera with your new beginning.