After everyone has gone to bed, Shugchang and I linger at the picnic table. Incense burns as I tidy up he reads aloud from Kongtrul's commentary on Mind Training. Studying in the intimate company of my teacher is great. Perhaps the exertion of the trail, the relief and gratitude of a two night stay in one place; I am perceiving through a clarified mind and therefore hearing what he reads.
The air is cool, but our techno-gear keeps us warm. It is time for a snack so I prepare some grits. We enjoy them immensely, sacred corn, sacred time! On this Thanksgiving Eve I feel the most gratitude and thankfulness I ever have. SC continues to point out the nature of the ground, and how it is that appearances arise, abide and dissolve asrather than in or fromemptiness -- which isn't some empty vacuum, but a great yet formless, vast yet teeming presence; the ground of awareness, the source of wisdom. This timeless profound moment feels like home, where the heart is.
There are extraordinary times along the trail when we'd take a break and someone would perk up with genuine interest (in whatever!) and Shugchang will pour forth, filling your cup and more... things get very clear. But as he will say, due to habit energy, we have a tendency to undermine the simplicity of abiding here, as if we are afraid. We seem to have trouble staying vulnerable enough to allow a deeper transformation. Still, sometimes there is openness and an ear to hear, and those are extremely insightful moments.
The next day, Padma Tenkar arrives and spreads out an abundant Thanksgiving feast. After having been on the trail for ten days, and in this cold and wet November afternoon, you get some sense of the first settlers and the original Thanksgiving day. We were immensely grateful. Tenkar is a great cook and one who, by her selfless service and generosity inspires a vision of the radiant Mother.
Everyone enjoys the feast, the day off and and the good company. Despite overcast and rainy weather, our spirits were high. We stock our backpacks with fresh provisions in anticipation of our return to the trail.
This interlude in civilized terrain will soon fade into the woods once again. The quiet rhythms return. This time is precious; walking with my teacher, sharing this life's journey as we move toward greater clarity and awareness.
Turtle Hill Sangha © 2010