December 23, 2015

Molly Meditating

Molly is always at my side and so its only natural that she's been picking up meditation techniques.  She is completely at one with her breath.
Now I've done it, I've become a person who uploads pet videos.

December 22, 2015

Cloth Again

The retreat recalculated everything. Instead of my usual wrestling match with cloth on my design wall, I mysteriously channeled three cloths as I sang some of the retreat chants aloud. The singing moved Molly out of my studio, through the dog door and into the far reaches of the yard. But it moved that little place between my eyes where creativity lives, too.
My intention was to develop one prayer cloth, where I could see the words to my favorite chant from the retreat.  I also wanted to create a gift (since she may be reading, no more details yet).  I started by diving like a boxer into a trash can into my basket of miscellaneous component parts.  And it all just happened.
The prayer cloth...
The gift...
 And the bonus, as in "make two, get one free."
They all feel like me.

December 21, 2015

So a Jewish Girl Walks into This Monastery...

Meditation, silence, and simplicity cultivate mindfulness. 
Now, mindfulness is a concept that pervades our zeitgeist as deeply as oxygen permeates the atmosphere. Its very ubiquity makes it easy to be cynical.  However, in the uncomplicated space of retreat,you ultimately discover that, like oxygen, the stuff really works.

Our teachers thankfully broke their silence each evening to share teachings about courage. A word that, in Hebrew, actually translates into two words that mean "heart strength." 
I've been trying to capture their words for you. So I've spent most of this day in a cycle of inspired typing, followed by demoralized deleting (interrupted by intermittent attempts to rescue the chili that I started cooking before realizing that I actually have no fresh, canned, or dried chilis anywhere).
So what did I experience at the feet of these masters in Jewish text and tradition, seasoned by deeply refined and precise Buddhist tools, inside the stone walls of this once Catholic monastery?

It only makes sense to let a German poet stirred by Russian Orthodoxy explain.
 From Rilke's Book of Hours, translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your belonging.
 Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows that I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.