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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update, Spring/Summer/Fall 2007

   Theme: And All Is As It Is.

 And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,
where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.
(From poem “To My Mother” by Wendell Berry)

Spring came to Maine. Summer follows. Last patches of snow drew into themselves on northeast side of Ragged Mountain. As usual, the mountain remains itself through ice, wind, and snow -- throughout stays itself as green stretches awake, water seeps from hidden springs, and porcupines wander trails. The more a thing changes the more it becomes itself. The more we change the more we remain in the itself. Is God the Itself?

Meetingbrook begins again. We've a new lease at the harbour. The following gatherings take place regularly at the Meetingbrook Hermitage Bookshop/Bakery by the Harbour, and at Meetingbrook Hermitage at Ragged Mountain.

Note: All events at Meetingbrook are free, open, and informal

1. At Harbour Meetingbrook.  Evening Conversation Practice at Bookshop/Bakery: Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evening, from 5:30 to 6:30pm there is a formatted conversation on a different theme or focus. Each conversation intends and practices deep-listening and loving-speech. The hour consists of: reading aloud around the circle, brief silence, open conversation, and final circle comments.         

Themes of weekly and daily events :

  • Tuesdays: Buddhist Meditative Tradition
  • Wednesdays: Laura Soul-Friend Conversation -- a circle group inviting each to reflect and speak of their own prayer and practice, what is noticed, and how things are going. (Occasional presenters.)
  • Thursdays: Christian Contemplative Tradition 
  • Fridays: Paths to Peace -- Community Conversation on Interdependence, Eco-spirituality, and  Interreligious Dialogue
  • Saturdays: Poetry Tea, and Literature (4:30-5:30pm).We read around circle our own writing or pieces of each person's choosing.
  • Sundays: Upstairs/Downstairs Community Table (1:00pm-2:30pm.) Whether it is called brunch, barbecue, potluck, or meat-&-potatoes -- a regular Sunday gathering with good food & good company. (Donations of food or money gratefully accepted.)
  • Daily: Noon Lectio -- 15 at 12. A regular daily pause for 15 minutes at noon to listen to a reading for 5 minutes, sit in silence for 5 minutes, then have an opportunity to share some personal response (if you wish) in the circle for the remaining 5 minutes.  
  • Music: Come by any time to practice or rehearse in public. We also have a piano. No one will pay a bit of attention to you. Weds and Sun others are sure to be there with harmonica, guitar, harp, or flute.
  • Invitations to Use Patio:
    -- Open invitation to use harbour patio for gatherings. Any time, just ask. Our redone patio at the water, with its new large grill and cafe tables, is available for use by the Meetingbrook community for gatherings of family and friends. One requirement: A plate of food must be offered to a stranger passing by.
    -- Open invitation to use harbour patio for morning Tai Chi, QiQong, or Yoga.
    -- Our harbour patio is quiet and lovely in the mornings, especially from 6:00am-10-00am. If any individual or small group wished to practice/lead meditative movement using our patio, please ask.

2. At Mountain Meetingbrook. Practice at Meetingbrook Hermitage at Ragged Mountain:

  • Saturday Ora et Labora Practice (7:15am-9:15am). Beginning with a silent sitting, chanting, and walking meditation – we then (after coffee/tea and toasted English with jam taken in silence with periodic audio tape background) do a period of work around grounds of hermitage in mindfulness.
  • Sunday Evening Practice.                Two hour meditation practice consisting of: 35 minute sitting, 10 minute walking, chanting (of Heart Sutra or Compline), then: reading at table, silent mindful eating of soup & bread, then circle conversation/reflection.  

3. Hermitage Harbour Room. Upstairs over bookshop/bakery is a lovely studio apartment. This single room with balcony overlooks our patio and the harbour with all the boating bustling that takes place there. This room is available for brief retreats, overnight stays, or day solitude visits. Call and ask us to reserve it for you. We operate by donations, and are grateful for whatever dollar amount you are willing to leave as donation for the ongoing work of the hermitage.

When not occupied by guests, the Harbour Room is available to everyone for quiet time, one-with-one conversations, meetings for up to 12 people, reading, or simply looking out over the water.

4. Meetingbrook and Maine State Prison. Meetingbrook volunteers weekly at the State Prison in Warren. We hold Meetingbrook Conversations (MC's) and Individual Learning Conversations (ILC's) with attendees from general population. We have also embarked on MC's and ILC's in the closed unit protective custody. We are also embarking on ILC's in the Special Management Unit (formerly known as the Super-Max). Friday mornings are dedicated to these lovely encounters.

5. Ongoing Life at Meetingbrook. Masquerading as a mildly mannered (sometimes cranky) gathering place of irregulars, the bookshop and bakery continues on at Camden Harbor. Meetingbrook Hermitage is a place of collation and recollection, hospitality and inquiry, acceptance and forgiveness, good conversation and better baked goods, not to mention the best and quietest sitting place on the water where coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are always on the house.

The harbour location is the market-face of Meetingbrook Hermitage. We often think of ourselves as hito, that is, hermits in the open.. The promises we take are Contemplation, Conversation, and Correspondence. There are no secret handshakes nor special qualifications to belong at Meetingbrook. Everyone who walks into view or is heard saying a word, everyone who thinks of us and others with engaged consideration -- everyone belongs.

6. Money.  We are small and we are not independently wealthy. Therefore we need, ask for, and accept donations to fund Meetingbrook. The bookshop/bakery is a labor of love, it does not pay for itself, therefore. we ask for help to continue its operation i.e. for rent and utilities. We ask you to donate whatever you can, whenever you might be able. Saskia and Bill have part-time employment to help stay afloat. We are blessed with volunteers and board members who help run the place and keep us in our place. Everyone involved receives a yearly salary of a penny and a pizza for their efforts.

  • Subscriptions:  We invite you to become subscribers.
    • Subscriptions of $50.00 dollars or more a year earns you our gratitude and a 10% discount a year on all books and music.
    • Subscriptions of $250.00 in a year and you receive our gratitude, 15% discount, and one night in the Harbour Room.
    • Subscriptions of $500.00 a year, and you receive our gratitude, a 20% discount on all books and music for the year, as well as two overnight stays in the harbour room with morning breakfast.
    • Any gift subscription of $1,000 dollars or more receives all the above -- and -- we will loan you our dog and cat for a weekend, ignore you when we see you, and not tell anyone of your kindness.
  • New Economic Template: Curiously, we would actually like to operate the bookshop/bakery on a new economic basis, namely, by donation. Items such as used and sale books, not-today baked goods, previously owned music cds, as well as soups, sandwiches -- would be exchanged on the basis of whatever the individual could pay or wishes to donate to the hermitage. (We've done this already with tea, coffee, and hot chocolate since 1996. Since last year the practice extends to sandwiches and Sunday Community Table, patio-grill food-stuff, and several other goodies).                                                           
  • We have tea pots around upstairs and downstairs for donations to help us pay the rent etc and purchase food for all the hospitality gatherings where we are pleased to offer food and drink gratis. We like both the idea and the practice of what a philosopher once said, namely, “Life is gift, not recompense.”
  • We slowly mull, meditate, and little by little implement this notion of gift-for-gift economy. We daily recognize that everything -- all of it -- is gift.      
  • Please consider donating to Meetingbrook. Tell us about Grants or Foundations that might be friendly to peace, hospitality, tolerance, community engagement, or just plain nice folks who like the idea of what we've been praying, meditating, and engaging these past years as we begin our 12th year at the harbour.


·  Sails:  Everybody gets to go sailing with Saskia on Penobscot Bay. That's a given. Even without asking. You might just be shanghaied by her. Keep your wits about you.

·  Some final words: We have called ourselves mono, that is, monastics of no other. We intend a life of prayer and mindfulness, practicing between traditions what the designation mono stands for. It stands for the gift given all creation and existence -- the gift of wholeness -- a gift very often not seen, heard, or understood.

We feel called. We do our life and this practice of mindful service with the realization that each person is gift, and each invitation to love and serve one/an/other is gift. We are each of us invited to dwell within a true dwelling place.

Some hold that true dwelling place to be What Is Itself...or...God. Our focus as  meetingbrook monastics includes both expressions -- namely, Buddha-Mind and Christ-Consciousness. Some do not use the word God but nevertheless long for What Is Itself. However it is worded for you, we feel this reality to be no other. Hence: monastics of no other

For us, Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage is a place where each is invited to presence herself or himself. What is no other to us is gift. What Buddhists call Bodhichitta, (unconditional loving-kindness and compassion), and Christians call Agape, (love that promotes overall well-being, the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, and humanity for one another as well as God) -- is what we attempt to practice, engage, and embody. (The Bodhisattva vow to save all beings, and a  Cosmotheandric spirituality which is all-inclusive, are both ways that are Vorbild (i.e. the pattern before us) and Schwer (i.e. difficult). Still, humbly, we practice.   

Meetingbrook is a Schola Gratiae et Contemplationis, (that is, a School of Gratefulness and Contemplation). It is a daily practice. It is hospitality. It is an integral conversation between silence and word. It is an engaged interaction with all our brothers and sisters. It looks to, and listens for, all sentient beings. It quietly and reverently seeks to attend the source mystery of life. This source mystery of life is what some call God, and some call What Is Taking Place, Here, Now! We try to pay attention to how each person and being expresses their view. We trust in inclusive sharing of each path, each trail along that path, each step on the trail. This is what a Laura of Hermits is for us -- It is a common viewing of each trail and each pathway leading each of us home.

In conclusion: We are grateful for all the blessings and wonderful folks we've been  privileged to meet these dozen years. Come visit. Grace us with your presence. You are integrally within the sound of what is taking place. We listen for you. Let's listen together!

What else is there?
Just you.
Just us.
Just everyone.
And all of it.
As it is!

With love,

, Cesco , Mu-ge ,
and all who grace Meetingbrook,
5 May 2007

(In memoriam, Katherine)

and all who grace Meetingbrook,
29 June 2006  -- 31 July 2006

Visit www.meetingbrook.org    

Please send your donations to:
Meetingbrook, 50 Bayview St., Camden, Maine 04843

Summer 2006 Update
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Meetingbrook Hermitage
64 Barnstown Rd.,
Camden, Maine USA 04843
Meetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery
50 Bayview St. (Cape on the harbor)
Camden, Maine USA 04843
e-mail: mono@meetingbrook.org

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