"5:15 a.m. ... A gracious ride arrives to take me to the zendo... . I'm the teacher - whatever that means to the student driving. I mention to her that I've gone to the zendo every morning for years. She asks, 'Every day?' I nod. 'You must love to sit,' says the student.
"I nod again, 'Sitting with silence, listening, is my way, my life. It has nothing to do with Zen, nothing to do with Buddhism. It has nothing to do with pleasure or joy. It has everything to do with being awake to this life and how I come awake. Being in the great awareness of the earth brings peace.'"
*Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. The Deepest Peace.
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Having been ill for weeks and having difficulty relaxing in silence, I laid the body down. I was, thankfully, able to rest in silence. I did nothing special - no beads, no mantra, no visualizing anything. I did pray inwardly the prayer of compassion for all beings, a daily ritual. The chronic pain, which often intensifies in the stillness, was present but slight compared with usual - this was welcome.
I did not know how much resting in silence, prayerfully, nothing special happening, means to me. When I consistently, daily enter silence, I forget what a gift it is, the grace given. Silence brings peace, calling me from a world at unrest to rest. After getting up, I ring the singing bowl three times, each time listening from and into the silence. The sound arises from and into the ancient quiet, as though the silence itself wakes up, resurrects with me, and with me all beings. The sound and I move together, my breath moving in and out, even as the earth breathes from ancient times to this ancient time - the same body, breath, and breathing as my ancestors. Bowing three times - bowing with the earth-, I leave the altar renewed and grateful.
* * *
With Manuel, I can say, "Being in the great awareness of the earth brings peace." And, like her, I need to be awakened again and again. Having awakened, I feel more the need to taste wakefulness endlessly. Is there, in this human body, an end to the need to be awakened? I do not think so. There is no end to waking up. I have been resurrected many times and welcome it many more times. Yet, I know I cannot resurrect myself. Something or someone wakes me up - and I want no name for it, not now, after being washed over by the silence. My mouth does not want words. My bones wish to keep resonating with the first, untouched quiet, resting with the song of peace singing itself into them, from them, and into the whole body... throughout the earth, and beyond the earth.
* * *
Later in the day, these words from my childhood Bible, Acts 3.19 (KJV), arise in the mind, words unremembered for many years... "times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Thank you for this time of refreshing! Yes, thank you for times of refreshing.
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.