As one who has sailed across an unknown sea,
among this rooted folk I am alone;
the full days on their table are their own,
to me the distant is reality.
A new world reaches to my very eyes,
a place perhaps unpeopled as the moon;
their slightest feelings they must analyze,
and all their words have for the common tune.
The things I brought with me from far away,
compared with theirs, look strangely not the same:
in their great country they were living things,
but here they hold their breath, as if for shame.
As you read this, I will be winging my way back to Upaya Zen Center for the last Core Training Retreat of the Chaplaincy Program. Has it been all this time already? It’s been a blur of books read, papers written, field trips, internships, and now the birthing throes of the “Final Project” leading to (hopefully) ordination in March.
Oh but that’s too far in the future. There is yet the harvest to get through – squash and tomatoes, chili peppers and pumpkins. There are brilliant coloured leaves to wade through yet and knee-deep snow drifts that lie in wait for the inquisitive cat to burrow into. There is a world that needs to turn on its axis for a sliver of a moment while we waddle towards enlightenment.
There are Jizo and Manjushri Bodhisattvas to be manifested and Buddhas to grow.
There is Rilke to read!
As if he listened. Silence, far and far …
we draw back till we hear its depths no more.
And he is star. And other giant stars
which we cannot see stand about him here.
Oh, he is all. And really, do we wait
till he shall see us? Has he need of that?
Even should we throw ourselves before him,
he would be deep, and indolent as a cat.
He has been in labor for a million years
with this which pulls us to his very feet.
He who forgets that which we must endure,
who knows what is withdrawn beyond our fate.
Rainer Maria Rilke (transl. C.F. MacIntyre)