No wake-up bells this morning. No footsteps sounding up and down the stairs. Our three-week meditation period has just ended. Last night the zendo was full of people. This morning just a few of us remain.
I make my way downstairs to brew a pot of tea and am greeted by the spray of yellow daffodils that I last saw by the Buddha on the altar. Their round glass vase with the fluted edge has been carefully place in the center of the wooden-topped kitchen table – the one with the slender and curvy white legs. I notice and appreciate.
I think that’s the biggest thing about coming out of a long meditation period – or, I suppose, even out of a short one – the noticing and appreciating. The simple things. The everyday things.
Of course it’s all a miracle – the way the sky gradually lightens with the coming day – the way the white stitching on my slippers winds around and around as it holds brown top and bottom together. Ask any two-year-old and they will tell you. The world is fascinating place – everywhere you look.
The past three weeks have been simple—sitting meditation alternates with walking meditation, dharma talks and chanting all happen according to a pre-arranged schedule announced with bells and gongs. The daily routine is carefully planned to allow us to turn our full attention to each moment. We practice the simplicity of noticing and appreciating – our breath, our life – everything that arises in the vastness of mind and body. No need to plan. When it’s time for lunch, the bell rings and we go to lunch.
But today I begin to re-enter the world of planning and scheduling and ‘getting things done.’ I feel as if I am picking up the clothes of my life that have been strewn about the room. Life-coach, Abbot of the Temple, home-owner, husband, author of a book about to come out – all clearly ‘me’, but also strangely unfamiliar. I re-dress my self slowly, noticing how easily I get lost in the detail and dizzy with the unfamiliar complexity of choice.
But mostly I am happy to be back and curious about who I will be this time. My prayer is that these clothes of my self may hang a little looser on my frame – leaving a little more room for noticing and appreciating in the midst of it all.