Deer Park, Day Twenty-Two
(written on Saturday February 1st)
There was again no sitting meditation scheduled today so when I woke up a little after 5:00am I sat on my own in my still roommate-free cabin. I took a meditation cushion and pad from the tearoom and also sat last night before bed. After sitting I studied for a little while and then did some reading in Mindful Magazine. It was very pleasant to start off the day to myself.
Breakfast was at 8:00 and then our program started at 10:00 so with the time in between I helped to prepare our lay friends hut, as we called it, for visitors that would be coming after lunch. Today was our hamlet’s turn for visitors for the once a year occasion where the sisters’ open their rooms for guests to be invited in. At 10:00am we gathered outside of our small meditation hall here in Clarity Hamlet for firecrackers and a dragon dance. We then had an Oracle Reading in our small hall and packed it full of guests. Before we began I was wondering how we’d fit everyone in our small hall but it seemed to work out OK. Many people did not attend the reading and the rest of us simply sat wherever we could find room. After the reading we had a picnic style lunch. I sat outside in the sunshine to eat and gratefully warm up after spending over an hour inside of our very cold meditation hall for the Oracle Reading. For some reason the sisters always leave the windows open during the night and it takes a while for it to warm up throughout the day.
At 2:00 there was another set of firecrackers and a dragon dance in front of our dining hall. Then we played a game that one of the sisters’ taught to us that involved throwing our shoes at tin cans and trying to knock them down. Each can had a guard by it and if the person succeeded in knocking the can down with their shoe the guard’s job was to stand the can back up and try to tag the person before they could get back across the line they threw from. The person throwing the shoe also had to retrieve their shoe before crossing back over the line. We had four cans lined up and I volunteered to be one of the four guards. If the guard succeeded in standing the can back up and tagging the person before they crossed over the line the guard won and the person tagged became the guard. There was a lot of laughter and running around.
At 2:30 the rooms were open for visitors. We had our lay hut set up very nicely with homemade brownies, cookies, peanut brittle, chips and guacamole, and oolong tea along with activities. We had our 2014 Aspirations red horse hanging up that people were invited to write on (since it is the year of the horse and red is a traditional color for TET), paper mandalas to color, a playful Oracle Reading basket with comic strips of Calvin and Hobbs, and we also did a community poem where we had everyone write a word or sentence down and then we joined them all together and read it aloud. Over the span of 3 hours we had around 15 lay friends and 5 kids visit plus 2 brothers. There are 5 of us long-term laywomen here right now and 2 short-term laywomen and most of us helped to host guests in our open community hut throughout the afternoon. It was nice to visit with other lay friends and have so much good food to eat! I found it much easier to host then to visit but I did take the time to visit two of the sisters’ rooms plus another one after dinner.
The visiting continued after dinner but our lay hut didn’t attract any more guests so I cleaned up and consolidated the food. After snacking all afternoon I was full by the time dinner rolled around so I skipped the meal and opted to play guitar instead. Over an informal breakfast this morning Sue learned of my want for a guitar and called up to a lay friend in the brothers’ hamlet to bring me down the one from their tearoom :) So I had a guitar waiting for me after breakfast – it was such a wonderful surprise!
Llora and I went to visit a room that housed 4 or 5 sisters after dinner and they had a guitar there too! I was asked to sing a song and although I was very nervous (there were 10-12 people in the room!) I agreed to play one that I wrote a few days ago and wrote a guitar line for just yesterday. Playing and singing in front of people continues to be a practice for me and one that I have been intentionally trying to get more comfortable with. When I was asked to play another song a few minutes later I was much less nervous. So I played two songs! What a triumph!
Having the guitar today has been such a great joy and it has been inspiring me to write more music. I can see how I’ve taken for granted that I am able to pick up a guitar so easily at home (we have three hanging on the wall in our living room). I didn’t realize how much I missed the guitar these past three weeks. It has been like reuniting with an old friend!