Deer Park, Day Eleven
(written on Tuesday January 21st)
When I entered the meditation hall this morning there were new decorations in preparation for TET (Vietnamese New Year) adorning the hall that must’ve been arranged yesterday. What I have learned through second hand knowledge about TET is that during the days of celebration no work is to be done, which is why preparations must start early. This year TET falls on January 31st, the 30th being New Year’s Eve, and ends I think on February 3rd. It is a time for collecting good energy to bring into the new year.
Today after sitting, stick exercise, and breakfast my work meditation assignment was to help prepare soil in the greenhouse. Basically it entailed shoveling dirt from one side of the greenhouse to the other. Sometimes certain jobs here don’t have a clear direction as to what the aim is and today was one of those times. Still, I found the work enjoyable and practiced to let go of final results. And if all of our hard work is undone tomorrow because the direction changes it was enough to enjoy today’s labor.
After working we had outdoor walking followed by lunch. I am starting to get a feel for the rhythm of the schedule and I enjoy how each day is both the same and different. My energy was fading during lunchtime and when I got back to my cabin it felt so wonderful to lie down on my mattress inside of my sleeping bag. From my lower bunk I could see the trees glowing in the muted sunlight and I soon drifted to sleep.
At 3:00 there was dharma sharing for us laywomen led by one of the sisters in the tearoom. The topic was the Five Mindfulness Trainings. At 4:30 there was sitting meditation and at 5:30 we had dinner.
Two different times today the sister I sang my new song to a few days ago came to me asking for me to sing to her. This morning she asked me to sing my song again and then before dinner she asked if I could sing anything else to her. I wasn’t sure what to sing for her so I sang the two promises practice song:
I vow to develop understanding, in order to live peacefully with people, animals, plants, and minerals
I vow to develop my compassion, in order to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals
As I sang she I walked together side by side, my arm wrapped with her arm. Her name is sister He Nghiem (the first part is probably not spelled correctly). She is so sweet and her smile is gentle and lovely. I am very much enjoying our time together. And now that I know she may find me at anytime asking for a song I will be thinking of new ones to sing to her :)