(NOTES: Here is some lingo info that may be helpful in reading these posts. Deer Park Monastery is in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is often referred to as Thay. The monks who reside at Deer Park are called Brothers and the nuns are called Sisters. The sisters reside in Clarity Hamlet and the brothers reside in Solidity Hamlet, about a 5-10 minute walk apart. The word hamlet comes from the french and means small village. While they are not really villages they are self-containing communities. The visitors who come to stay at the monastery, like myself and Mike, are often called lay friends.)
Friday January 16th, 2015
I just got back from dinner and then remembered I had a pair of pants still hanging on the clothesline that I had hung out to dry earlier today. I went out to get them and found them missing. It was an, “Oh no!” moment, as they were my layering pants that I wear underneath my main pants in order to stay warm. My main pants are quite thin. I came back to my hut prepared to start typing and then decided to go back out and see if I could talk with some friends about my missing pair of pants and see if anyone had them. When I went back to the clothesline one of my roommates was there and she had a basket of clothes with my pants in it! Hooray! It is the simple things that stand out to me here. Like when you have the chance to miss an article of clothing and notice how wonderful it is when it reappears!
Today we had morning sit, stick exercise, breakfast, and working meditation, where I volunteered to clean the bathrooms in our hamlet and outside the big hall. I was also asked to fill back in the septic tank lids if I had time, as the pump truck had come today and emptied the tanks. So I filled in the 6 holes over the lids after cleaning. We had walking meditation after working and then I opted to skip lunch in order to get more rest and take a nap.
As Fridays are arrival/departure days here we had more lay friends join us starting around 2:00pm. A couple lay friends left as well. I think our total now is 16 lay women staying here in Clarity Hamlet (as was written on the white board in the dining hall). I would imagine a few are only here for the weekend. Our small hut now has 6 people all together, after acquiring two new roommates. One of our roommates is leaving tomorrow.
At 3:00pm one of the lay friends, Jo-ann, invited us shorter term folks to join her in the tea room for an informal dharma sharing circle. The longer term friends are having a group tonight. There were three of us that met and it was a very nice time to get together. When Jo-ann invited me this morning I was hesitant to attend, since I’ve been missing silence and more quiet. But I found the small group to be enjoyable and I’m glad I went.
We had sitting meditation and chanting at 4:30pm followed by dinner. On Fridays, when we have new friends join us, our chanting in the evening is in english. All other nights are usually in vietnamese. And while I enjoy practicing my vietnamese it’s very nice to chant in english and understand what is going on.
There is no program for us tonight, except an orientation for the new arrivals. Tomorrow is a community work day where 45 people have signed up to come and help on the new nunnery construction project. I am hoping to join in as well but my understanding is that it might not be possible for those of us staying here to help. There was an announcement at our work meeting this morning and it sounded like unless we had been trained to know what to do we would be unable to work on the project. I am hoping I misunderstood, as I was looking forward to the community work day in particular. I guess we’ll see come tomorrow!
Something I wrote this morning:
Ah, this silence
is a welcomed friend
It is a call I seem to remember
from the beginning
of earth’s fragile inception
A quiet that lingers on the tongue
like fragrant possibility