October 8, 2007

10/08/07 Plum Village France

Upper Hamlet

Today is called lazy day. The only scheduled activities are breakfast, lunch and dinner. But even though there wasn't a morning meditation, many of us thought we would get up anyway for our own meditation. My alarm went off at 5:10, then Stephan's five minutes later. But the next thing I knew it was 8AM and they were ringing the meal bell. Guess my body had other ideas about getting up this morning.

One lone lotus bud

It has been raining most of my time here except for a little bit of blue sky and sunshine yesterday afternoon. This morning the heavy mists were back but that didn't stop our gi kong class from taking place. This was the first time we went through all sixteen exercises the recommended six repetitions. Definitely felt it on these old muscles.

Even though there are not any schedule activities, life goes on anyway. The kitchen was looking for volunteers to help make jam. Paddy and I picked and peeled figs while Filippe and Stephan peeled and diced apples. That took us to the noon lunch.

The monks loved to play ping-pong

Had another good conversation with Paddy after lunch. Every day here, he seems to get brighter and brighter, (despite the rain) as if he's transforming before our very eyes. I now probably say this all the time, but I feel so fortunate to meet such wonderful people on my travels. It is what draws me to the road time after time.

After a walk through the nearby vineyards which cover the country-side near here, a group of us met at the smaller meditation hall. At the request of Stephan, one of the Brothers taught us another meditation technique. It was a way to use mindfulness meditation that was closer to our day-to-day life 'off the cushion' which used a combination of standing, walking, laying down and sitting, all while following our breath. We must have kept it up almost two hours. I think the only thing that stopped us was the dinner bell.

This neighbor was already harvesting this years grapes

This evening, all the lay people met in the hall for a 'Happiness Meeting'. Not a very good title, if you ask me. I guess the idea was for us to remember the good moments in the day and use the opportunity to share it as a way of reinforcing the joy in our hearts when it happened. To use the garden analogy, we seem to have no trouble watering the weeds, those seeds of negativity in our hearts, but find it difficult to nurture the good plants, those moments of joy. For my part, I just wanted to thank everyone I had talked to here at Plum Village in the few days I've been here for their openness and freely given friendship.