Clarity Hamlet Meditation Hall Alter
Deer Park, Day Ten
(written on Monday January 20th)
Ah, lazy day :) The sun is shining and the birds are singing cheerfully. I woke up naturally at 4:30am, which has been pretty common for me the last few days. After getting dressed and moving quietly around the room, so as not to wake up my roommate, I headed to our small meditation hall here in Clarity Hamlet. The light by the alter was on but no one was in there. I grabbed a cushion and pad and put it down by the front of the room. I practice sitting meditation for 30 minutes and then in backwards progression I sang the morning chant. It was quite lovely to sing in the dharma hall and to sit by myself in the dark of the early morning.
After sitting I went to the dining hall to read and to write. It is a good place to go in order to have space to journal or to sit with a book, especially when your roommate is sleeping. I enjoyed a cup of tea as I sat and read from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh and took some notes. Around 7:00am I went out to the dirt parking lot in order to do some stick exercise. I found a lightweight good-sized PVC pipe by the dining hall to use as my stick. The length of the stick that seems to work best should be about the same size as your height. It was cold this morning and in between sets of exercises I rubbed my hands together briskly to warm them up.
Deer Park sign at the front gate
In June of 2012 after getting home from the 21-day retreat in Plum Village in southern France I faced a large stack of mail. Not looking forward to the task of sorting through it I found a card sized envelope from a dear friend amidst the bills and junk mail and decided to open it first. I was delighted to see a good piece of mail in the sea of paper! The card had a lovely flower on the front and I remember smiling. As I started to read the card my smile soon disappeared. My very close friend of the past few years had written to tell me she no longer wanted to be in a friendship with me.
I was terribly confused and had no idea what had happened to make her take this drastic action. I must’ve read the card over and over 10 times the day I opened it. My confusion very soon turned to anger. Not only had she ended our friendship in a pretty little card but she had sent it while I was out of the country, and at the time she lived only 8 blocks away from me. I felt extremely disrespected by what I felt was a very cowardly and immature thing to do. In the matter of moments I went from looking forward to seeing a dear friend and sharing my retreat experience with her to literally never wanting to see her again. I was hurt, sad, confused, and angry.
I wrote her a letter back telling her how I felt and ended it by saying that when I tried to strip away all of the strong emotions I was feeling I could see clearly that I would miss her. I hadn’t heard from her since then until last Thursday when, before departing for our local fall retreat, in yet another stack of mail, I found a small square envelope with her handwriting on it. I wasn’t expecting to hear from her and yet I wasn’t surprised either. I took a couple of deep breaths and opened the letter. In it she wrote about how she wished she had done things differently and how she didn’t mean to cause harm. She hoped that I could find forgiveness in my heart.