Home Time!

It will soon be ‘home time’. Primary school was marked by playtime(s) and HOME TIME, (not always marked by a bell). The end of the school day was the very best. Eventually, we went to the crate, picked up our third-of-a-pint of milk, and (paper) straw. Pushing in the straw through the cardboard top, perforated into a perfect circle,  we drank our health (not that we knew that personally at the time).

Interesting isn’t it, how one remembers with sharp clarity, those moments of transition marked by ‘ceremony’. After the bottles went back in the crate we returned to our ‘place’, put our chairs on the tables ready for the cleaner – (I asked) and then a moment of silence, perhaps a short prayer (it was a C of E School after all). I don’t remember a bell, just the teacher saying ‘home time’ (as good as a bell).

At the end of kitchen clean-up here at the monastery, a ceremony (of sorts). “Rack coming down.” somebody calls (a physical safety warning – needed). We stand quietly together hanging the wet tea towels on the drying rack. Hometime? (As a body, we depart the kitchen – with an apple or orange, sometimes a leftover). No bell just a doing-it-together routine marking a transition from gathered activity to…the next thing. A walk, tea. A post-lunch snack! A short nap?

Transitions, marked or unmarked. Marked by choice. Always we live in the presence of constant choice. Another of my remembered quotes from my handwritten notes in my Book of Wisdom. Gleaned in my teens.

Now time
is home time
no bell needed
exercising choice

A moments pause
the ceremony
of stopping
and we are

Between Seasons – Impermanence is Our Friend

The River Swale, near Keld. North Yorkshire. UK

Hovering as we are between summer and autumn, especially times hovering between dawn and day and evening and night, I’m noticing diffuse ‘edges’. That’s diffuse ‘edges’ in the landscape, in feelings, in thoughts, and above all, in that ‘without edges’ we know when sitting quietly. (A call to move inwards.) And yet, last evening while out walking, the sun low showing up the undulations of the valley – there were defined edges, and yet not. Coming autumn is in the air.

Baldersdale is on the east side of the Pennines. northwest of Barnard Castle. UK.

And yet…the road over the hill? I would imagine my road will lead me close to Baldersdale come next Tuesday. There is always that road that snakes across the landscape of our lives. Always moving, winter into spring, sitting to standing to walking to running. To driving….

Do you see the eye in the grass? Before we can blink an eye, it will be winter. And before we know it, come the end of the year, days will be getting longer and that hovering between seasons, winter to spring, will be with us again. Impermanence is our friend. We are alive, be glad!

Thank you once again to Mark Rowan for sending photographs. For some reason, they nearly always inspire me to write.

Too Sacred to be Uttered

step, step
the signal gong
ting, ting
leading the celebrant
Solemnity tears.

The hall
where guests
daily for
eighteen months.
In empty space.

Processing in
upwelling tears
invisible guests
made manifest
Unnameable tears.

Yes, emotions this morning as we open our doors for guests to come and stay here at the monastery. It is indeed a solemn occasion. Unnameable tears – too sacred to be uttered

We Don’t (fully) Know What we Got – ‘Till It’s Gone

Rev. Meiko at Shasta Abbey – early 1990’s.

The other day I was honoured to be the celebrant for a memorial for the late Rev. Master Meikō. Here is the dedication at the start of the ceremony.

This incense and this ceremony is dedicated to the memory of Rev. Master Meiko.
Faith-filled – Meiko
Tenacious of spirit – Meiko
“Whilst Devas beat their heavenly drums, ever making pleasing music…”
You made pleasing music during your life, may we do the same – expressed in our daily living.

(The text in quotations above is from the Lotus Sūtra, Rev. Master Hubert’s translation found in Buddhist Writings, p. 36.)

“We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”

Albert Einstein

When all the surface memories
and opinions and hurts
and grudges have fallen away
when somebody has died and there is time to reflect
and not be distracted by what has gone before
the dance
the music
that is their life
Our lives
emerges from the murk of memory
to sound clear and

By the way my recollections of Rev. M. Meikō were fairly benign. Contemplating her after her death and especially while preparing for her memorial she came more fully into view. I think these thoughts apply not only to death but loss in general.

Marked for Life

When I make jam I generally put off writing the labels for days. The jars hang around in the kitchen then finally I write those labels, hurriedly. I’d not thought why, until today.

This evening I staggered to my room dead tired after picking fruit most of the afternoon and then making a batch of jam into the evening. First Gooseberries growing in the hedge close to the monastery then, once again, over the hill to my favourite place of the moment. To pick Raspberries in a wildlife-cum-forest garden – with fruit bushes and trees too. Love the place, love the people.

Writing my labels just now I remembered the shadow of early punishments at school! ‘Write a hundred lines’ the teacher would say, write ‘I must try harder’ she instructed. Write, ‘Raspberry Jam. 16th August ’21’, nine times.

Interesting how such early experiences leave a lasting impression, influencing one’s behaviour (not to mention a life) for numberless decades.

So many impressions on the young sensitive mind. Some subtle, some less so. My youthful misdemeanors were minor ones. Scares, minor ones.

This post is for those young minds (and bodies) scared unbearably, astonishingly, in such a way – totally off the scale. Repeatedly.