Misty moisty morning in the middle of “nowhere”,
wild pigs’ diggings.
Moments of beauty
a catch of breath,
a twinge of ache,
Temple Nandina berries bagged. Sacred indeed.
Our days of wearing the white oizuru over jacket are coming to an end, there is sadness, and joy in all that has been. Although we decided not to wear the sugegasa sedge hat inscribed “we two travelling/practising together”, we have very often had a sense of being cared for…
What has become our daily round is passing away… bowing towards hendo main temple, cleansing ritual, ring bell, light incense, ring smaller bell to announce arrival, name slip and any offering, then hands in gassho prayer position for Heart Sutra. Repeat at Daishi temple. Then to the nokyosho Office to get our calligraphy “stamp” and osugata (paper image of deity (the calligraphy can become a family heirloom or be put in the coffin when you die). Bowing as we leave, walking up/in on the left and out/down on right. Joining our hearts with other pilgrims’ oblations has a sense of rightness, participating in their way of faith not just looking on.
Paul writes “Somewhere in ” The Divine Comedy”, I am pretty sure, Dante says Man’s underlying sin from which arise all other sins is IMPATIENCE. This is a big call I know but as far as I am concerned he is dead right and it was on the HENRO walk that I was given a great opportunity to face this sin of impatience face to face.
“As you, who have been following this blog will know, Judi took a fall fairly close to the beginning of our walk and it was me thereafter who was responsible for helping her to do up zips, buttons and the tiny clasp on her necklace not to mention applying several creams, make up and deodorant and helping with the many little tasks that need two hands.
“For me who is an extremely impatient person, this at first was extremely irritating and very frustrating but this was what the HENRO offered. As the days passed and as I got the shock of seeing how mean spirited I was there arose in me the insight that this perhaps was a gift and maybe if I could adapt to Judi’s needs and let go of my habitual impatience that I could make a real progress with the “Sin” that has long been my stumbling block.
“While I definitely can’t claim total eradication of the said “Sin” I can say I started to even delight in doing the above mentioned tasks. My fellow pilgrims who are much more patient people than me also helped model for me ways of caring for Judi that I could never have imagined and so the broken wrist came to be my way of salvation.
“My work with my impatience and its outward manifestations also helped me see the importance of patience during my times of meditation. It is such a simple lesson but its ramifications are potentially enormous and so I am now looking for ways to keep this inner work alive, like slowing down how I eat and not getting frustrated when standing behind someone on a queue who seems to be taking unnecessarily too long with the hotel receptionist. The list is endless and thanks to Dante and the HENRO I am at least on the way.”
Walking these days we are aware of the early days of Bonnevaux post getting the keys, the vision incarnating. Bonnevaux, south west of Paris is the new home of The World Community for Christian Meditation www.bonnevauxwccm.org. As we go to the temples, places of peace, we dream of Bonnevaux being such a place offering stillness and hope and a vision of what could be. And we wonder about the part pilgrimage could play in it all. A time of spaciousness, an opportunity to be free of the regular ways we use our time, simplicity in refining what we essentially need, openness to what comes and reflecting on its meaning for us. And more.
Henriette’s reflection on her recent walk on Il Cammino Di San Benedetto has much resonance for us and perhaps for future pilgrims coming to Bonnevaux “Having the health and the strength to walk a pilgrimage is already a blessing. And I received many more! The weather was fantastic, to emerge in the beauty of nature, to wonder and marvel the depth of history, the unexpected and elevating encounters with people, growing deeper in solitude, silence and simplicity. It was very special to receive your support and encouragement.”
We each have a version of Paul’s reflection on what the time held, mine was around letting go, each day further surrender was needed it seemed, having committed to make this effort, I kept trying and wonderfully a place of acceptance and freedom opens up. How could this translate to daily life?
I am in wonder to sense the resonance of the dadirri reading we have one day with what we experience around us… “In the way of dadirri we wait, nothing is more important than what we are attending to” … daily we see our impatience and need to control…” everything must be done in the proper way. Careful preparations must be made. We don’t mind waiting because we want things to be done with care. We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep inner listening and quiet still awareness) God’s way will be clear”. A way to live to be sure.
After we finished walking, we visited the Ibaraki Church of Light designed by Todao Ando… it was an ambitious project, we thought of Bonnevaux…Todao Ando said at the “dedicational ceremony” …construction of the building was tough. At the beginning Mr H. Miyamoto and Minister Karukome came to our office to commission us for a design. They explained about their conditions. First, they had incredibly limited funds at hand. Second, they wanted to build a new chapel in addition to the existing wooden building which they were using as a church at that time. After I heard their explanation about their conditions, I said that it would be impossible to realise this plan. I thought that it would not be completed to the end. The more I met them and listened to their plan, the more I felt desperate. But I came to the conclusion that I would challenge this very tough project because the church people’s passion and eagerness gave me hope. I undertook the work knowing that there would be many difficulties…”
we join our hearts to those of many others in faith and hope and love.
It is now a week since we farewelled our fellow pilgrims, we’ve been in Kyoto, on Naoshima and Teshima the art islands and leaving today for home from Hiroshima. We are grateful to find ourselves attuned to the places, the edgy art, the Shinto shrines and Zen temples and to this place of peace where the A bomb was dropped 70+ years ago. To find attention and presence and reverence and stillness and compassion. We give thanks for these gracious people who have so cared for us as they live daily amidst tsunami towers, details of what to do when there’s an earthquake and in recent weeks, an alert on their phones that North Korea has fired a missile across Japan. We will hold you in our hearts, arigato goziamas.