Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bodhi Day 2011 / "the turning-point"/ Laughing with the mystical crow / True spirit of Christmas update

"Enlightenment - that magnificent escape from anguish and ignorance - never happens by accident. It results from the brave and sometimes lonely battle of one person against his own weaknesses."

(Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano)

Thanks to Beth for linking to the above quote.

Thinking about Buddha's enlightenment vigil this morning and The Four Noble Truths.

December 8, 1970, was a turning point, the day when Richard returned from his time in Vietnam, arriving at around 3 a.m. at San Francisco International Airport. We had no idea it was Bodhi Day. We certainly were not enlightened that day. I am still not enlightened, not even a Buddhist, but I have found a measure of peace in that I was with Richard in the last few days of his life and that he wanted me to be there. His last "words" to me were "Thumbs up."

Today while out walking by myself after getting together with friends for breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., I saw the regular flock of 13 geese again at Marine Park. I looked in vain for the distinctive 13th goose. Sitting down on a large rock, I studied the group for about a half hour, thinking that the light was making it difficult to see the one goose that didn't match the rest of the flock. It's a mystery. They all looked like Canada Geese today. Then a single crow landed on a rock near the flock, looked pointedly in their direction and laughed in the way only crows can. I laughed, too, because just before I began walking, I had read "The Showings: Lady Julian of Norwich, 1342-1416," a long poem from The Stream & the Sapphire, by Denise Levertov, with this:

They were abashed,
stranded in hilarity.

But when she recovered,
they told one another:

'Remember how we laughed
without knowing why?
That was the turning-point!'

My heart is still with Richard after all these years.

December 15, 2011 update:

From Taradharma's blog

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Standing Bow Pose / Looking out at Bellingham Bay

Back in November, a metal sculpture of a woman in the Standing Bow pose, a variation of Natarajasana (King of the Dancers), appeared on a tiny island in Bellingham Bay near the Taylor Street Dock. All I can find out through Google searching today is in a Letter to the Editor of the Bellingham Herald where it is given a thumbs up by a local woman and referred to as guerilla art, with hopes that the City of Bellingham would allow it to remain there. A mystery. I couldn't find any other photos of it on the internet.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nicholas Day 2011 in America / City of New Orleans koans

December 6 is St. Nicholas Day

... Good morning, America, how are you?

Don't you know me? I'm your native son.

I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans. I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done ...

Monday, December 5, 2011

"When Amy came to Dingle"


I wonder how many people, men and women, hear Amy Winehouse's voice and know, without a doubt, that they are not alone on this earth. I remember hearing her voice for the first time. I was in a hurry. It was in the midst of war, inner and outer. I stopped to listen. It is an ancient voice. Astounding that such an emotionally vulnerable young woman carried the gravity and levity of that voice for as long as she did. I am moved by what she says at the end of this film clip about listening to Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin:

"... Gospel is so truthful. There is nothing that, you know, I mean I'm not religious, but there is nothing more pure that the relationship with, you know, your God or what you believe in, your faith, you know, there is nothing stronger than that, apart from your love of music, and so gospel to me is very inspirational."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A marriage that began today in 1948 / An extended meditation on our parents and their long marriage

Our parents married on December 4, 1948. Our father was 34 years old. Our mother was 32 years old. Both had been married before and had to get special permission from a bishop to marry again in the Episcopal Church. When I was 17 years old, my mother told me that she had been married before. What a shock that was. We didn't know that our father had been married before until after our mother died. I don't know when or where this photograph was taken, but my guess is that it is in 1948, when they were engaged. This photograph was among a carousel of slides that my father showed me a few years after my mother died suddenly in December of 1994, the day before their 46th wedding anniversary. My father died on St. Patrick's Day in 2003.

I can almost remember them being this young. I hadn't looked at these photos since the year our father died. Our parents are just getting to know each other. They are hopeful.

Here are our parents in the 1960s, at age 50 and 52, in a somewhat solemn photo and a laughing photo taken in a photography studio:

and when they were in their 70s in the late 1980s in a photo taken by me:

Today I am feeling grateful for our parents-- our father with his gardens and his games of Solitaire and his world travels in retirement, our mother with her art work and her books and her cooking, our parents playing Scrabble, our parents enjoying life together for 20 years after we grew up--our mysterious and eccentric parents that I am only beginning to know now, in the years since they died.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"...The world is a Bridge..."

This morning, right after I woke up at 4 a.m., something that I don't usually look at on my wall caught my eye, and then I remembered that today is the day that my mother died suddenly of a massive heart attack in 1994. What I saw was my mother's calligraphy and ink drawing with a quote she was given by a friend:

"Isa (Jesus), son of Mary said: 'The world is a Bridge , pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer for the rest is unseen.'"

Original Persian:
-"عیسی پسر مریم (در آنان می شود صلح) گفت :' جهان است پل ، عبور بیش از آن است ، اما هیچ ساخت خانه بر آن او امیدوار است که برای یک روز ، ممکن است برای ابدیت امیدواریم ، اما ماندگار جهان اما ساعت آن را صرف در دعا و نماز برای استراحت است نهان ".'

That's my mother at Anchor Bay, California, just north of where my parents lived from the 1970s until her death in 1994. I believe she is in her 70s in that photo.

I am feeling close to her today, although it wasn't always that way.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A one-hour walk on the first day of December 2011 / Early Risin'

Taylor Street Dock at 8:45 a.m.:

Looking out over Bellingham Bay:

Looking back at Taylor Street Dock:

Expanse of sky and islands from Marine Park:

Expanse of water and islands from Marine Park:

Partial view of Marine Park's flock of 13 wild geese:

The 13th goose, a regular member of the flock of Canada Geese:

Walking down the steep part of Taylor Street Dock on my way back:

Music for an early morning walk in the inland waters of Western Washington: