He died 15 years ago yesterday, our late Head of the Order Rev. Master Daizui MacPhillamy. Many people who follow Hounmugo on Facebook have been leaving comments with personal memories of their encounter with this ancient monk. He left a lasting impression on so many of us. In memory here is a short verse he wrote.
The Great Silence
Who could have
My memories are many and varied spanning over 20 years from the time of my ordination to his struggle with cancer early in 2003 and his death that April. A senior monk at the hospital in Redding California where Rev. M. Daizui was undergoing treatment called me in Cornwall, England. ‘If you want to see Daizui alive you had better get on a plane now’, and I did. The call came at 2.00 am and having caught a flight from Heathrow I arrived at his bedside late afternoon the same day. He smiled a greeting, ‘THERE you are Mugo’! Pleased to see me. That was the 20th March the day the USA invaded Iraq. The news broke as I was mid Atlantic. So that was my international dash to be by his side during the last days of his life.
He had many great qualities, for example while he cooked a meal he would wash up dirty dishes as he went along, leaving few for after meal clean-up – an admirable practice for any cook. I was particularly grateful for his compassionate acceptance of me. Memorably the time I came back from a walk by the ocean in Southern Oregon dripping wet! He said not a word, asked not a question! He just smiled a knowing smile. Showing his acceptance of our humanity, and his own.
Note: I’d lost my footing on a path and fallen into the ocean below! Thankfully I was in no danger, just thoroughly soaked.
Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.
Tracking time and day accurately is a significant marker of mental health, as I understand. We all lose track and laugh it off. And we join in the joke, laugh in sympathetic understanding. But for some this is no joke. The other day I was cruising along the fruit and veg section in the local supermarket. A chap came up to me asking with urgency, ‘do you know where the avocado stuffed prawns are?’ No not a hoax. Immediately I ran with it. ‘Ah the fish counter is over here’ and then in a heart-beat I guided him to the avocados. I’m pleased to say this event passed with not a joke or nervous comment. It could have gone another way.
That encounter stayed with me though. Losing ones grasp mentally, temporarily or progressively, is not a joke. Remember well. Simple sympathy and kindness for friends, relatives and strangers is the order of the day. We can all be April Fooled any time. Any day of the year.