Approach from the West….
This morning, climbing up from the East towards Hartside Top
. Snow. Gradually more
snow. Oh crikey! Thick
snow. But not a thought, as far as I can remember, of turning back. Just two wheel track dents in snow, blowing across the road. Plowing on regardless. A kind of madness? Thankfully when I finally did grind to a halt by the lonely summit cafe there were men pushing a sliding-spinning car.
It’s all a bit of a blur now. All cold hands and slush under the wheel arches. Fitting Autosocks for the first time. Bit of a struggle. Men clearly unimpressed with sock activity. Impatient to push me out of the road to let others past. (Was that Rail Track they had written on their jackets?!) Me determined to fit those socks. They disappear into the blowing snow. Then hurried shouted exchanges with other drivers. Go back? Go on? Men return to get the car moving. I’m in my robes. Soaked. Are you going on? a chap shouted. Yes. I shouted back. We’ll follow you then.
For those who know this road the snow drifts just after the summit and then after the first sharp bend, not so much. As I took off the socks, having reached tarmac, the car following me stopped to check if I was OK. The lad in the back, headphones still in place, rolled down his window. Awesome! he exclaimed. I’d like to think he was appreciating my driving skills. The back end of the car shimmied back and forth in the loose churned up snow calling for a steady hand and calm nerve. But it was probably the socks! They were indeed awesome.
Just before Melmerby the barrier across the road announced that the crossing was closed! In The Village Bakery, tea, scone and jam with a chance to come down from this minor adventure. Had a memorable conversation with a couple at the cafe who had made the crossing too. Thanks for being there. And listening.
If there is a next time. If there is a question. If there is cause for concern. I’ll go the long way round.
The resident monk, Rev. Alicia, at Reading Buddhist Priory, Berkshire, UK is writing a regular news/blog. I await her weekly posts with happy anticipation. Perhaps some of my enthusiasm is because I was the resident monk there in the early 1990’s. Knowing for example Rev. Alicia has arranged for a plumber to install new taps (faucet’s) and that the new floor covering is down on the stairs brings me vicarious pleasure, even after all this time away. But there is more, much more, to these writings. There is teaching that comes through both overtly and through her talking about her day. This post on Renewal is a grand example of the teaching coming though. Here is an excerpt from this post as a taster.
Renewal is a different concept to rest. Renewal is a change of pace, time out from the usual routine of work, an opportunity to relax, yes, but in skillful ways that keep the training going and allow it to be expressed in other ways. It is a chance to ask ‘what would it be good to do that would renew/refresh me in mind and body?’
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And if you look at my schedule you’ll see I’ll be staying a few nights in Reading after I land back in England October 29th. Hum…wonder if there will be some gardening I can do while I’m there. Clip the Hawthorne hedge perhaps?
A reader asked for a Bodhi Leaf pin for a friend who is suffering. The person loves nature. I wrote a brief note to go with the pin and thought I would share it here. Partly as an avenue to offer merit and partly because the advice stands for all of us.
Nature turns its’ face to the sun and that’s what we must do. In our tradition we encourage people to ‘look up’. That never fails to make a difference. Literally, to look up to the sky, the tops of trees and the tops of houses throughout the day helps to lift ones mind and heart.
For all those who find themselves in extremity.
Merton was also for me an introduction to spirituality. At university my creative writing teacher introduced me to him and then as I wrote she told me that my writing reminded her of the “Zen” poets from China and Japan and contemporaries such as Gary Snyder. I started to read them, found an ad for Shasta Abbey Buddhist Supplies, ordered a statue and received info from the Abbey and a few months later when I was eighteen I took the Greyhound bus from Denver to Shasta. A moment that changed my life and just now I can feel the gratitude in my heart to this professor who really took me under her wing in my young days. Interestingly, she was an ex-catholic nun. Thank you Rita for pointing me in the Way. If you are interested here is a bit about Rita Kiefer.
Thanks Jack for this comment.
Amida Buddha sitting still in the garden
Mt. Shasta as seen from the monastery grounds
Jacks comment, left on the previous posting, reminded me of several people who entered my young life and for whom I too have great gratitude. Tonight I’m thinking particularly of an aunt who encouraged me to write after she read letters I’d sent to my parents describing my travels in America in 1967.
It would appear that Rita Kiefer is still encouraging people to express themselves through writing.
Looking into the faces of these flowers this afternoon I found myself smiling. So too when looking into the faces of people in bloom.
We can encourage that, by blooming too.
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