NO-SITTING CHAIR SAT UPON

Montague Reporter, 3/19: Highlights from the Montague Police Log: “Residents, Undaunted By Coming Pandemic, Continue to Bug the Heck Out of One Another.”

This morning I do my service before Kwan-Yin, she of many hands, asking for compassionate intercession on behalf of all of us and chanting the names of specific people who are afflicted right now. That’s when I notice how the petal of one of the tulips bought some 10 days ago has wrapped itself around Kwan-Yin’s neck. It’s either embracing her or choking her, or both.

The flower reaches forward towards Kwan-Yin’s companion, Maria of Guadaloupe, that we received many years ago from Sheikha Amina in Mexico City. A Muslim sheikha gave a Catholic icon to a pair of Buddhists. Welcome to our world.

The above headline actually reassures me. People are still behaving like people. They argue, they lose their dogs, they report finding another lost dog, they report a sick raccoon on the road, they call in drinking parties and kids congregating on the street and making lots of noise.

This headline is almost as good as the one that appeared above this item:

“Family Dollar employee reporting that a male party is sitting in a chair that is not supposed to be sat in out in front of the store.” Title: No-Sitting Chair Sat Upon.

We’re sitting on no-sitting chairs as well, on office chairs and sofas, connecting with each other by Zoom. I read that this is a good time to take things easy, go inside, rest, uncover a world you don’t usually pay attention to, enjoy the flowers. But today it snowed. I’ve been talking to other teachers and we all agree that we’re busier than ever figuring out how to do our schedules online: meditation, talks, services, face-to-face.

Suddenly people far away connect with us because when it comes to Zoom there is no near and no far, just you in your own little box. If you choose to keep your video turned off the box is black, looking a little ominous. But if you come out of the shadows and turn on the video, and if you did that with me at 7 this morning you’d have seen a bedraggled woman in a gray sweatshirt and glasses sitting quietly.

No more hiding under robes, put on the video and let the world see you.

The entire world opens up to me in my room. I sit with a group at 7 am—I have no idea where most are situated. I hurry to walk the dogs before the snow. A student comes into the house and we maintain a good distance from each other, washing hands before and after. A phone discussion with Roshi Egyoku Nakao in Los Angeles about how to teach out of our book, The Book of Householder Koans, given that a personal book tour is probably no longer possible. At the same time we’re being asked to do this online by folks in different countries.

Then a study by Facetime with someone in Switzerland, and a break reading Harry Potter with my grandson on Zoom, and another discussion about how to use various elements of Zoom to reach more people, followed by writing this blog, which will be followed by at least two phone calls to see how folks are doing.

Occasional breaks to fill the birdfeeders and fall in the snow when Aussie and Harry jump me. They’re from the South and both adore this light, feathery snow. Like kids, they spend most of the day jumping and chasing one another, and have now, at twilight, finally collapsed in happy exhaustion.

I had a discussion with Aussie standing on top of the big hole she made in the ground:

“Why are you working so hard, Auss? Everything is on pause.”

“I could have told you that.”

“That everything is on pause?”

“Of course everything is on paws. I’m on paws, Harry’s on paws. I don’t know about your paws since you cover them up.”

“You don’t get it, Aussie. Everything is on pause, meaning a break or a rest.”

Not Aussie.. She’s still digging her way to China. When she can’t lure Harry out into the snow again (he has less hair than her) she returns to her big excavations and will be at it for a while.

I return to my office. Today I was a good girl: didn’t go anywhere, stayed in.

“Matty: Here’s freedom,” Emily Dickinson wrote her friend about her corner bedroom in her home in Amherst, with its small table on which she wrote hundreds of poems, so few of which were published in her lifetime.

What trust she had in her talent, what trust she had in her ability to get at the very nub of life. Not for her the wandering outdoors in search of conversation, reassurances or recognition. She had her family, she had her friends, she had her room. She had the world.

 

 

 

“Matty: Here’s freedom,” wrote Emily Dickinson of her corner bedroom in her Amherst house, with its small table on which she wrote hundreds of poems, fewer than 10 of which were published in her lifetime. Yet she felt in that room that real freedom resided there.

Montague Reporter, 3/19: Highlights from the Montague Police Log:
“Residents, Undaunted By Coming Pandemic, Continue to Bug the Heck Out of One Another.”
This morning I do my service before Kwan-Yin, she of many hands, asking for compassionate intercession on behalf of all of us and chanting the names of specific people who are afflicted right now. That’s when I notice how the petal of one of the tulips bought some 10 days ago has wrapped itself around Kwan-Yin’s neck. It’s either embracing her or choking her, or both.
The flower reaches forward towards Kwan-Yin’s companion, Maria of Guadaloupe, that we received many years ago from Sheikha Amina in Mexico City. A Muslim sheikha gave a Catholic icon to a pair of Buddhists. Welcome to our world.
The above headline, posted under the Montague Police Log, actually reassures me. People are still behaving like people. They argue, they lose their dogs, they report finding another lost dog, they report a sick raccoon on the road, they call in drinking parties and kids congregating on the street and making lots of noise.
This headline is almost as good as the one that appeared above this item:
“Family Dollar employee reporting that a male party is sitting in a chair that is not supposed to be sat in out in front of the store.” Title: No-Sitting Chair Sat Upon.
We’re sitting on no-sitting chairs as well, on office chairs and sofas, connecting with each other by Zoom. I read that this is a good time to take things easy, go inside, rest, uncover a world you don’t usually pay attention to, enjoy the flowers. But today it snowed. I’ve been talking to other teachers and we all agree that we’re busier than ever figuring out how to do our schedules online: meditation, talks, services, face-to-face. Creating new structures.
Suddenly people far away connect with us because when it comes to Zoom there is no near and no far, just you in your own little box. If you choose to keep your video turned off the box is black, looking a little ominous. But if you come out of the shadows and turn on the video, and if you did that with me at 7 this morning you’d have seen a bedraggled woman in a gray sweatshirt and glasses sitting quietly.
No more hiding under robes, put on the video and let the world see you.
The entire world opens up to me in my room. I sit with a group at 7 am—I have no idea where most are situated. I hurry to walk the dogs before the snow. A student comes into the house and we maintain a good distance from each other, washing hands before and after. A phone discussion with Roshi Egyoku Nakao in Los Angeles about how to teach out of our book, The Book of Householder Koans, given that a personal book tour is probably no longer possible. At the same time we’re being asked to do this online by folks in different countries.
Then a study by Facetime with someone in Switzerland, and a break reading Harry Potter with my grandson on Zoom, and another discussion about how to use various elements of Zoom to reach more people, followed by writing this blog, which will be followed by at least two phone calls to see how folks are doing.
Occasional breaks to fill the birdfeeders and fall in the snow when Aussie and Harry jump me. They’re from the South and both adore this light, feathery snow. Like kids, they spend most of the day jumping and chasing one another, and have now, at twilight, finally collapsed in happy exhaustion.
I had a discussion with Aussie standing on top of the big hole she made in the ground:
“Why are you working so hard, Auss? Everything is on pause.”
“I could have told you that.”
“That everything is on pause?”
“Of course everything is on paws. I’m on paws, Harry’s on paws. I don’t know about your paws since you cover them up.”
“You don’t get it, Aussie. Everything is on pause, meaning a break or a rest.”
Not Aussie.. She’s still digging her way to China. When she can’t lure Harry out into the snow again (he has less hair than her) she returns to her big excavations and will be at it for a while.
I return to my office. Today I was a good girl: didn’t go anywhere, stayed in.
“Matty: Here’s freedom,” Emily Dickinson wrote her friend about her corner bedroom in her home in Amherst, with its small table on which she wrote hundreds of poems, so few of which were published in her lifetime.
What trust she had in her talent, what trust she had in her ability to get at the very nub of life. Not for her the wandering outdoors in search of conversation, reassurances or recognition. She had her family, she had her friends, she had her room. She had the world.