Something feels lost. It is November. Emptiness flits near.
The veiled membrane between approaches transparency. Murderous
attacks worldwide continue. Nature in New England disrobes
and plunges into bare stillness.
In a similar way, there is a field of silent awareness
containing all the events of our days. Although we may sometimes
be gripped by emotion or lost in a particular story, there
is throughout each of our dramas a deeper reality of silent
presence. This is a silence of the heart rather than an imposed
cessation of speech or activity. It is a silence that is,
we could say, the background of all activity. We don’t need
to find it because it is not lost. (p.7, in Passionate
Presence, Experiencing the Seven Qualities of Awakened
Awareness, by Catherine Ingram, c.2003)
November takes autumn at its word. No pretty colors. Instead,
wind blows down brown leaves, ground cold turns them stiff.
Celebrations of change and death lapse into emptiness and desolation.
Earth in Maine shifts from balmy transition to chilly change.
Wood goes into stoves and fireplaces. Tommy wore gloves and
scarf when he dropped off wood chips stiff with last night’s
We think it is too early for cold to come in so suddenly.
Twenty-six foot sailboat is lifted from harbor and placed on
stands by birdfeeders. Joel backs up truck with this season’s
split wood. “Have a good winter,” he says before turning up
hill back to Hope. I wish him health and return next November
with next year’s wood. Either one of us could not be here to
enact our yearly dialogue. We know that. It’s why we converse.
The process of dissolution of life-in-form
includes, as well, the dissolution of the constructs of experience
themselves, the skandhas of Buddhist psychology. The skandhas,
it will be recalled, are those constituents of physical existence
that created the experience of reality on the physical plane,
created our experience of separate, personal “self.” They are
form, feeling, perception, intellect, and consciousness. The
dissolution of those constituents leads to the deconstruction
of the separate identity as well as the de-realization of the
world, finally and ultimately for the dying person.
Transcendence begins as new and transpersonal
levels of identity are animated. The attention has profoundly
shifted. The psychological phases of Chaos and the psychospiritual
phases of Surrender have been passed. The soul has been experienced
and ingathers all attention, awareness, to itself. From that
vantage point, the soul begins to access Spirit. This is the
process of Transcendence, referred to in the monastic infirmary
tradition as the rites of reincorporation, the return to the
Source. (p.261, in The Grace in Dying, How We Are Transformed Spiritually
As We Die, by Kathleen Dowling Singh, 1998)
Meetingbrook conversations use books, articles, and poems
the way our bodies use breath, blood, and skin. It is conversation
we engage in. It is not argument, ideology, polemic, or preaching.
Conversation invites us to speak with one another. Right and
wrong are not to be proven. Reaching or overreaching is not
a goal. Disclosure of prejudices and angry opinions are neither
frowned upon nor discouraged. There is no icing out or shunning
of unpopular thought. Repetition of personal stories and skipping
in place with habitual patterns of non-dialogic spans of airtime
are accepted within the circle of suffering with each other
where we are at this given time of our lives. No one is requested
not to come back. Only those withdraw who have not yet learned
to accept the suffering and search of others in an open invitation
to move with it and through it.
There is nothing to learn in Meetingbrook conversations, nothing
but exploring and engaging what is at source of oneself and
one another. We try to learn this nothing in the presence of
November gives up summer with its lingering beauty and color
stretching through October. In Maine November pivots autumn
towards winter. The word we arrive at is common and immediately
felt. It is similar to something Ryan said at end of a prison
conversation, "That which holds all things together is
the common language we are trying to learn."
Autumn’s late word is poetry written by smoke’s evaporating
fragrance. It evokes glory’s dwelling.
, Sando , Cesco , Mu-ge ,
all who grace Meetingbrook