Monday, October 25, 2010

Countdown to China

We leave in two days, that is, Wednesday morning very early. The flight leaves at 7:15am, but we have to be at the airport much earlier than that, of course. There is no way I can get everything done between now and then that I need/want to get done. And there are still several events between now and then that I have to attend. Prison tonight. CWC Clergy brunch tomorrow morning. Lotus Sutra class tomorrow evening. Somewhere in there I need to pack, finish newsletter mailing, get newsletter up on the web site, and general odds and ends of office-y stuff.

I'm planning to take my laptop with me, even though it's a pain. I figure it will be good to be able to check e-mail, post to facebook and/or here, and keep people in general updated on where I am and what I'm doing. Kyogen is talking about putting up a map on facebook to show people where we are. Alas, I cannot take my camera. I ordered a replacement battery for it online, and it goes dead after about 7 photos. It's not going to be useful to me to have to recharge my camera battery every 7 photos. So I'm just not going to take it. Maybe Kyogen will loan me some of the pix he takes. Maybe I'll take some pix of the teachers, as well as our fellow travelers. At some point (probably not until I get back) I will return one of the two batteries I ordered, requesting a refund and complaining about the quality of the merchandise. The price was great, and now I know why.

But I digress. And there are still many things to do this afternoon before I head off to Coffee Creek for prison services. So off I go to do them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

September / October

Well, September completely caught me by surprise (don't know why -- it's on the calendar in order, every year), as it often does, and I found myself feeling like I was playing catch-up the whole month. October has felt more like I was just losing, falling farther and farther behind.

It's been busy, grant me that. In addition to our usual busy October schedule (start of term, which means more on the schedule, classes and whatnot), we added co-hosting a national (international, really, including Canada) conference out at Great Vow Zen Monastery. The Soto Zen Buddhist Association, that is, including priests and teachers from all over the place, a total of about 80 of them/us. We coordinated transportation (that is, I didn't, but my fellow monk Jyoshin did). It took all of our ordained out of the temple for 4 days, leaving everything here to be covered by lay people. The place didn't seem to fall apart while we were gone, so I gather they did just fine without us.

I came back to a newsletter that was overdue and all sorts of other things that just didn't seem to be possible to finish. And now I'm looking at the fact that some of us are leaving for China in a little more than a week, and I'm ever-so-slightly panicked. Well, not really.

On Saturday we had a Zazenkai. I don't know whether I've described that before, but it's basically a one-day retreat, 12 hours (5am-5pm) of silence, including 8 hours of sitting meditation, some chanting services, some formal meals, a few rest breaks. We have these about every 6 weeks or so.

It was glorious for me, absolutely what I needed. I remember a friend talking about "attitude adjustment," commenting that she "needed a bigger wrench." Zazenkai is what you might call a very large wrench. It adjusted my attitude quite nicely, and I'm much happier today. It turns out my troubles were largely of my own making, in my own mind, as I suspect they all are, and letting go of that makes everything much lighter. Funny how I can always see this clearly in retrospect, but not so much when I'm in the middle of it.

So today I'm doing typical day-off things -- laundry, library -- and adding changing out summer and winter clothes and starting to think about what to pack for China. And I'm doing all of this with a light heart. I suppose it helps that it's sunny, even if not particularly warm.