Tuesday, June 03, 2008

April is busy -- written April 27

Okay, take 10 minutes to do a quick update. Lotsa stuff happening, right after another after another. Friday I went and picked up new shelves for the newly-remodeled laundry room. MrK put them together, and I painted the shelves, since the sun was out. 9 shelves altogether (this is Rapid Rack shelving -- with metal frames and adjustable shelves, and particleboard shelves). Put a coat of primer all over, and a coat of gloss enamel on one side of each. In between did some office work, updating the website, etc.

Friday evening I finally went to Coffee Creek (women's prison near Wilsonville) for my first visit. I went with Getsushin, who is the director of the prison program here. She's in her 70s, a retired UofO professor, an interesting woman originally from Norway, and with a pretty strong accent still. She has spent time in Africa, France, and various other countries. She has been ordained here for several years, and is also transmitted and can give the Precepts. She has been working in the prisons for several years now.

Anyway, we went to the Medium building, and I sat in on the weekly group there. They do check-in first, then 20 minutes of sitting meditation, and then study a text. Getsushin uses the text as an anchor for discussion, which is the way I like to do these kinds of groups as well. How does the dharma apply to our daily lives and the issues we're working with. In prison, people are having to deal with making sense of their lives and trying to find ways to change how they've always done things. The prison environment both helps and hinders that process. Our work there is to help people find a way to work with the environment, to take advantage of the opportunity provided by having your life completely disrupted and stopped in some ways, to take a close look at what's going on and find a way to live more authentically, more wholesomely. Anyway, I enjoyed the discussion a lot, and the women seemed to enjoy it as well. They all thanked me for coming and asked me to come back. We told them that the eventual plan is for me to work in Minimum on Saturdays, and a couple of them are scheduled to move to Minimum soon, I gather.

I got back home a little after 10 (because Getsushin and I talked a bit as she dropped me off, of course), and then got up at 4:15am yesterday so I could do the Zazenkai all day yesterday. That is, we were in silence from 5am to 5pm, with formal oryoki meals (like we do on a silent retreat), chanting services, and lots of sitting meditation, about 8 hours of that during the 12-hour time period. It was hard at the time in a lot of ways, and yet I find that today I can feel the benefits of having done it. And now, in a moment, it will be time for breakfast, and that will begin Sunday morning programs, which are always fun and tiring.


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