Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update May 2001
Apology and correction: OH NO!, We had no mail!
Theme – Itself, No Other Life
1. Yet even after April, by God, there’s no excuse for May (e.e.cummings)
May needs no excuse. It belongs to itself. Even while it associates with April and June, is considered among the twelve gathered sets of 30-something days, May creates for itself in Maine a lengthening light, fragrant soil, breaking through buds, and coatless meander along salt-water edge and mud-dried forest trail.
And there’s no excuse for you or for me.
Webster’s, [EX=without, CAUSA=explanation] says that “EXCUSE implies a passing over of a fault, omission, or failure without censure or due punishment in view of extenuating circumstances.”) There’s no need for excuse because there is no explanation needed for you, for me. Mary Poppins on the staircase told the banker father of her nanny children, “I never explain anything!” There’s no passing over of our “fault, omission, or failure” because to pass over them is to pass over us; they are we, we are they. These ‘sins’ have been taken away. (As Trappist Abbot Damien put it, they’ve gone to that no-past that every infant is born without!) No excuse, without explanation, May is itself. You, me, each one passing through this life – each is itself! And like May, we are part of a larger gathering that longs to express itself in its own way.
2. Lord God, you are God and your words are truth; you have made this generous promise to your servant. Do, then, bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever; for you, Lord God, have promised, and by your blessing the house of your servant shall be blessed forever. (2Samuel7:28-29)
The Hermitage is gathering itself. The upstairs room above the bookshop/bakery is ours to rent. Arrangements are in process to take over the whole cape building at the harbor for Meetingbrook. (Actually, the whole building is only two rooms.) We expect within the month to have that room available as Hermitage Harbor Room for use by others who wish to use it for an hour, day, overnight, weekend, week for quiet, retreat, and solitude. We will work out how to cover the additional expense involved in our having that room for guest use, but I expect we’ll rely on gift and donation to pay the rent.
Likewise, we began May by staking out and tying string along the footprint for three retreat cabins on 2 1/2 acres we have at the Hermitage at Ragged Mtn. It is our plan to raise two thousand dollars for each cabin and have two built before the end of spring. (Gifts of money etc, accepted gratefully!) Come visit!
3. We see, when we realize the vision of the Kingdom of Heaven, that we, like Jesus, are not mere human beings after all, but are now, and have always been, nothing less than immortal, unlimited, divine Spirit. In his ministry, Jesus wanted more than anything else to tell us about the nondual vision of the Kingdom he saw. He saw a Kingdom right here on Earth in which everyone was truly and substantially “one” with God and “one” with each other. At the same time, however, he saw that this nondual “oneness” didn’t take away from God’s transcendence or from our humanness or individuality. (Jim Marion in his Putting on the Mind of Christ, p.14)
Our life is gathering itself in a daily horarium, a regulating of the hours of our day. Put simply, three word-pairs describe our monastic practice: a) silence & stillness, b) ora et labora, c) collation & recollection. This is our morning, daytime, and evening – namely, morning silent sitting, psalms/chanting, daytime work bookshop/bakery, and evening events reading/conversing. This becomes an ordinary delight.
4. There is no other life.(lastline, Gary Snyder poem, Why Log Truck Drivers Rise Earlier Than Students of Zen)
Our reflection as ‘mono’ (monastics of no other)gathers itself in three additional monthly events beginning this May: a) Conversations in the Thin Place resumes May11 (in collaboration with the Camden Public Library); b) Meetingbrook Conversations in Prison begin May18; c) Saturday Morning Retreats at the Hermitage (monthly seven hours of mindfulness sitting, silence, work, walking, brunch, & conversation) begin May19th (and subsequent 3rd Saturdays of the month) 6am-1pm.
These times of practice remind us there is no other life. Life is the going on of life. And death, in a paradox seen in the mystery of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, is the letting go of our life so as to go on with life itself. “Itself” is what is going on. It is what is calling us now. It is our name. It is each one’s name. Let us invite each other to wake and sound our lives like a clear, strong, calling bell!
We wish you flowers and flowering; we wish you a blossoming hermitage
life of your own,
April 2001 Update
64 Barnstown Rd.,
Camden, Maine USA 04843
Meetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery
50 Bayview St. (Cape on the harbor)
Camden, Maine USA 04843
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