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Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
September 2001

Poem of Sadness Seeking Light

 (Dedicated to Sando on the bench, even today
  licking hands and wagging tail as each enters)

L’espace, mais nous ne pouvez concevoir, cet horrible en dedans-en dehors qu’est le vrai espace.

(Space, but you cannot even conceive the horrible inside-outside that real space is.)

Henri Michaux in “Shade-Haunted Space”

If we do not yet understand –
here it is:
here is what is true

Please, please,
do not harm yourself --
do not shut your eyes

Do not allow
the horrible opposite
to close that space of seeing

Here it is: alone-with-others
hold an open space for love –
begin now -- see neighbor as self

wfh, 11-14 Sept 01


Theme: Embodying Encounter with God-Within-Others

One gets to see God
by seeing what is within
God’s eye.                       (wfh)

1.       At Friday Evening Poetry at August’s end poems by Rilke, Berrigan, Berry, Oliver, & Hafiz were read. The question “How do we know God loves us?” was raised in subsequent conversation. A response was made, “We don’t!” While some pointed out we know by experience, or by loving, or by faith – still the notion we don’t know caught attention. Can we not know and still embody encounter with God and others? Is God realized in true response encounter with another? Is this love? Somewhere during the ensuing contributions Jim offered an out, saying, “There is a God because if they ignore that they look terrible.”  His words seemed perfectly appropriate for a Zen koan – a statement of fact presented and proved by the appearance of what is missing in its opposite. Hence, we know there is God and we are loved when the right manifestations of the eightfold path are embodied, or in the fruits of an incarnational encounter. Put simply, when grateful love is a true response to what is presented to us, there is God! The koan asks for a response – so does God, so do each of us. We long for the question and the response to truly embody us.

2.       A Meetingbrook Community Event was held on the 24th of August. Spurred by Georgiana and groomed by Brad, the sluggish draw-horse of financial movement was led out into the open. The question for the special evening’s gathering was: A Place of Silence and Solitude in the Marketplace? A Beginning Conversation concerning community and support of the Hermitage Harbor Room at Meetingbrook Bookshop & Bakery. It was a lovely gathering of some 45-50 people at the bookshop. Lobster rolls, salads and deserts accompanied the poetry reading, conversation, and good will of the event. How to invite and support the Hermitage Harbor Room and its present and future activities was broached. People were generous with their appreciation and their ideas, donations of money were made, and the beginning of a lengthier conversation begun. There was homework handed out. (Please fill out questionnaire at end of update with your thoughts and mail in to us).

3.      Another dialogue that will be continuing is with the Bishop of Portland. In his kind response to a letter sent him inquiring about the hermit life in Maine he indicated a canon law colleague specializing in religious law had reviewed the documents we’d sent regarding Meetingbrook Hermitage and “was positively impressed with the way you are living out your consecrated life within the Church.” He noted that from a Canonical point of view she observed we “are moving in the direction of a new form of consecrated life rather than a hermetical life.” He said he’d be willing to sit with us to continue the dialogue. We’ll meet. Meetingbrook is known for its inclusive, open, and interreligious focus. As we dialogue with the Bishop of the Diocese of Portland we will remain aware of our goal – to hold a space for the side-by-side practice and study of Buddhist meditative mindfulness, Christian contemplative prayer, & Engaged Service. Many are delighted with the invitation to dialogue, and about how the life we live as lay monastics might become part of the consecrated Catholic experience. Some are wary of this dialogue. We invite them in.

4.       We’ll be starting up again friends-of-meetingbrook conversations about the direction and focus of what is emerging from Meetingbrook. Several wonder how we can afford the rent, related costs, and personal energy lived into Meetingbrook. They suggest fundraising and clearer organization. Such meetings will be difficult for me. I dislike fund-raising and have avoided it. I believe all is gift and an unknown gift at that. Therefore I hold the curious view that if Meetingbrook is to continue and deepen as a place of prayer, meditation, contemplation, and conversation – then the money to sustain it will either be there or not. If there, we will gratefully continue in the marketplace. If not, we will withdraw and dwell in a less visible life from the hermitage. My nature gravitates to the solitary, Saskia’s to communal. Together we form the eremitic (solitary) and cenobitic (communal) aspects of monastic life. The life of God at center is the focus of monastic life. Center is the question: What is, or what will be a new form of life made holy within the life of God? What do you think it is? Share your views with us.

5.      This Saturday’s Lectio Divina read from Sirach and Luke.  Both remind us that there is a need for humility, there is a need for simplicity, and there is a need for everyday compassion.

 Sirach 4, 20-28:

20 What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not.
21 What is committed to you, attend to;
              for what is hidden is not your concern.
22 With what is too much for you meddle not,
        when shown things beyond human understanding.
23 Their own opinion has mislead many,
                and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment.
24 Where the pupil of the eye is missing, there is no light,
                and where there is no knowledge, there is no wisdom.        
28 The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,
        and an attentive ear is the wise [person’s] joy.

Luke 14:

12   He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid.
13   But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

We need humility, simplicity, and compassion. We need them everyday. This week in Camden, as elsewhere, there has been suffering. Deaths, heart aching disappointments, realization of fragility and vulnerability – the usual fare of human life. Some 500-800 people attend the funeral of two Camden teenage sisters killed in a car crash in Nevada. Just like that, someone tried to pass in the opposite lane and hit them head-on. A few days later a woman in her 70’s is killed in another accident in Rockport. Other deaths from illness; other sorrows from being human and behaviors that disturb. What we hear from these incidents depends on how attentive our ear is. I hear the reminder to be humble, simple, and compassionate. We never really know what, how, or why things happen. What is committed to you, attend to.  And, you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. Life is gift -- plain and simple. We’re invited to live it -- live it now, live it here. And so, live it where you are. And because we are together in this gift, let’s be grateful and let’s pray that we are courageous enough to present a feast for all to attend.

Fare & Feast well,
, Sando , Mini and all who grace Meetingbrook

1Sept01 www.meetingbrook.org


Questions for your response:

  1. When you find yourself in silence, what do you find?
  2. At times when you are alone, what does solitude feel like?
  3. What ideas do you have for Meetingbrook, for its Hermitage Harbor Room?
  4. What do you think of the type of community Meetingbrook invites? Namely:
Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage intends to serve a loosely knit association of individuals who travel the meditative, contemplative, and engaged service path in their spiritual lives – from initial dependence, through freeing independence, to compassionate interdependence.

  1. Finally, if you were to wish to be supportive to Meetingbrook’s invitation to be part of a place of collation and recollection, conversation and silence – what expression might your interest and support take?


Email (mono@meetingbrook.org) or mail to Meetingbrook, 50 Bayview St. Camden, Maine 04843.

August 2001 Uptate
July 2001 Update
June 2001 Update
May 2001 Update
April 2001 Update
March 2001 Update
February 2001 Update
January 2001 Update
December 2000 Update
November 2000 Update
October 2000 Update
September 2000 Update
August 2000 Update
July 2000 Update
June 2000 Update
May 2000 Update
April 2000 Update
March 2000 Update
February 2000 Update
January 2000 Update
December 99 Update 
November 99 Update

September 99 Update
August 99 Update



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