(Helpful Info & Terminology: This is part of a series of blog posts written during my recent retreat stay at Deer Park Monastery, located in southern California, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Due to not having had Internet access I will be posting two days worth of my writing each day from while I was there on retreat.
Laypeople: Also called lay friends or laymen and laywomen, are all of us who come here to practice but are not monks or nuns.
Monastics: The collective group of both monks and nuns.
Clarity Hamlet: Where the nuns, also called Sisters, reside. Laywomen stay here as well.
Solidity Hamlet: Where the monks, also called Brothers, reside. Laymen and couples/families stay here as well. (Clarity and Solidity are just a short 10-15 minute walk in distance from each other).
Thay: Refers to Thich Nhat Hanh, meaning teacher in Vietnamese)
Sunday February 7th, 2016
Happy Lunar New Year Eve Day :) It’s lazy morning, on account of Tet’s festivities, which start today at 3:00pm. Despite there being no early morning sitting meditation I still carried along with my regular routine. I woke up around 3:00am, went to the dining hall to write and enjoy tea, and then walked up to the big dharma hall to sit. I was accompanied by a small handful of others who had decided to sit on their own as well. I wound up sitting for just under an hour and then strolled down to the parking lot, where I slowly walked around listening to my music.
Here are a couple of things I wrote early this morning:
It seems likely, probable, expected even, that I should run out of words soon. I mean, there’s only so many of them and only so much to say. How many times can I paint a picture with a mere arrangement of 26 letters describing a sunset or a feeling of elation or a deep moment of reflection? Innumerable times! Words are a steady river whose source is endless when your quill is dipped in its fresh waters.
Hanging in the air with bated breath, listening to the sound of a eucalyptus tree echo that of the pulsing sea gently washing ashore and owls calling from nearby hills festooned with oak. No moon decorates the sky this morning as I am carried in the arms of 5 am’s rapture.
Yesterday, after talking with Mike, I decided to see about whether I could get online to look up some info in regards to my injured leg. I spoke with Sara, one of the two long term laywomen staying here for the duration of the winter retreat. She gave me a couple of suggestions. I also texted my good friend Jennifer to see if she’d look some things up for me in the meantime. I was sitting in the dining hall just before dinner when Sara came in smiling and told me she had seen one of the Brothers walking by who used to be a doctor and enlisted him to come and look at my leg. After poking painfully around and examining both legs and feet he came to the same conclusion that Jennifer had suspected: a hematoma, which is a fancy way of saying a deep bruise. He said it would just take time to heal and to sleep with it elevated. I felt better after having consulted with him and appreciated Sara’s help.
Things I don’t seem to have the time for in my daily life absorb a large part of my days here. Of course, it’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I don’t make the time. Things like watching the sun make its way up over the hills, transforming shadows into light; paying close attention to the cycle of the moon; listening to the sound of birds and breezes wind their way around the oak trees; delighting in the slow progression of a cheery blossom tree blooming. The miracle of life is forever coursing around us. We’re often just moving too quickly to take notice.