I did Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s “Forgiveness Challenge”. https://interfaithsn.org/forgiveness-challenge/ At least I started it, but when I signed up, many years ago, I was still so contracted by anger that I knew it would be very difficult. But at least by signing up I put myself on a road. However, “forgiveness” is a very Christian idea and I am not a Christian.
Over the years (I don’t consider myself a Buddhist either) my Zen practice has matured and many things that were held in a fist of hurt have fallen by the roadside without much effort. I realize that whether we call the loosening of contention “forgiveness” or not, there is no freedom in hate and anger.
As human beings we can be lost and suffer and cause suffering. We can and will always see the rise of tyranny, selfishness, violence and contracted states, but at some point, we come to understand the road we are on and know we can’t pretend to not choose to continue it or to leave it.
There is a movie that will be free on Facebook on June 2nd made by Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama called “Unite for Joy” about their wonderful friendship.
This week at the sitting with the Toronto Zen Community, the teisho was the “Master Ma is ill”. Hekiganroku Case 3, Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha. I was almost moved to tears. A little about what is going on for me. I have occasional bouts of depression that are very physical. I ache all over and it seems that sad facts stick to me like tissue paper does to polyester when the air is too dry. This trek to “the dark mountain” has been accompanied by various concerns and the coldest winter on record. I have succumbed to this state where I plod through my day as the winds of too much thinking and too much pain swirl around accompanied by Winston Churchill’s Black Dogs barking and Hannibal Hector’s favourite play list.
Now when I say “almost moved to tears” I need to say, we sit in Zazen during the teisho, neither looking…
The “Wight Christmas, Holiday Horror and Seasonal Subversion” is available from Amazon and my story “The Selfless Gift” is included.
My story grew out of a writing exercise where the words “velvet silence” were a prompt.
I have spent part of my life traveling through places covered with snow returning to family homes for the winter holidays, in various states of mind, through different eras and phases of my life.
The thing I like most about snow is what it does to sound, so, the words “velvet silence” could only mean for me a snowy night. From there I saw a lonely road driving away from one difficulty towards an uncertain tomorrow.
Christmas, for many, can be the most difficult time of the year. Birthdays can be ignored but Christmas punches a hole in the calendar and threads wishes, family, love, longing and regret together through the years until it can almost seem an entity in itself. I tried to capture those traditional pains and joys in a short story.
Was there ever a better story than a Christmas ghost story?
Unwind the balls of barb wire and stretch them out across the land that stood in perfection.
Take that understanding that had the strength of a heart beat, that was a sound as big as an ocean, that made us say, “I know that sound!” and make it academic. Put it in a library somewhere far away and then say, “it never was for you to understand”.
And with it
the light that stretches from one horizon to the other,
the wind that circles while panting, panting with the breath,
the water that falls, that funnels, dances and destroys,
the trees and plants and miniscule things growing,
the uncurling grasp of a baby’s fist, the fluttering lids of the dying,
and deliver your surgery:
this declaration, your pretense of history:
“You shall always be divided against yourself along this line and from all who are not you.”
It is no less.
by Rio Murphy
When she was my child
I paused at the perfect curl of her earlobe.
She was a comma in my diatribe
about laundry and bills,
my aching back,
the sticky handprints everywhere,
the runny noses and endless nights of fitful sleep:
The Joy of Her.
When she was myself,
if I looked away
and back again
She was a blinking cursor.
When she was my old mother
with her tissue paper skin
and brittle bones on which it hung,
one black pupil
the colourless iris of
her one sighted eye
—the spoon suspended halfway to her lips Like a question mark—
she was the poem
I could not write.
A woman poem is a ribbon in a river flashing underwater,
It catches on an ankle,
Then slips away over black river stones, unknown.
LOVE AFTER LOVE by Derek Walcott
The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.
This reading is part of On Being’s altogether wonderful poetry archive.
11 October 2021 – This Thanksgiving Day, I walk down the street in breezy sunlight and, as I approach a corner, memory suddenly tugs. Am I right? Is this the corner with that poem about birds spray-painted on the S/E building wall? And even if I’m right, spray-paint comes & goes. Will the poem still […]
There is something about setting a goal, giving yourself a challenge – and then telling everyone around about it. It obligates – sometimes in a good way. My declared & announced goal for the past two weeks, has been to produce a series of ten small still life paintings. «So Long, See You Tomorrow», (20 […]