It was the autumn of 1993. I was at Reading Priory preparing to leave on a trip to Shasta Abbey. My elderly neighbour, Mrs Butcher, had given me a box of Black Magic chocolates as a leaving present.
We, Rev. Mildred and I, were relaxing after evening meditation when the telephone rang. Without thinking I answered with a mouth full of chocolate. ‘Hello this is (gulp) Reading Buddhist (gulp) Priory’! Robust laughter met me from the other end of the line. It was a senior monk from the monastery in America. With a chuckle he asked,’Are you eating a chocolate Mugo’? He was calling about arrangements to pick up me and my traveling companion.
The same thing happened today during a long phone conversation with a fellow monk. ‘Are you eating something Mugo’? Unmoved and unashamed, I responded that indeed I was and what’s more it was chocolate. Particularly fine chocolate as it happened. What a wonderful surprise gift to find in my mail slot after lunch.
I have done a lot of leaving places since becoming a monk. One time, when moving back to the UK in 1989 due to immigration regulations, was a particularly hard leaving. ‘Home’, we would say, is where your Master lives and I had to go. Everybody seemed to be talking about my LEAVING. So sorry you have to leave Mugo. And then I struck on a different word that better described what was happening. Transition. I’m in transition, not leaving.
With very many more ‘transitions’ under my belt, many painful ones, I’ve learnt that ‘home is where ones heart is’. And also where ones original Master lives. That’s no matter where one happens to be, or transitioning to.