I left so early this morning to get to the café and get even more caught up with my overdue work that it was still dark out. And cold. It has been beautiful and 60 for the past few days so the one morning it is actually the appropriate temperature for March it just felt brutally cold. But, I was driven on by the knowledge that what has to get done has to get done. So here I have been since 6. I left last night at 9.
On the walk down, in the cold and fog, I saw all these animals about. Two birds were fighting. At first I thought maybe it was a spring mating dance but no, they were fighting. Two male robins. Then I saw several cats crossing the street, on their way home to warm houses, bearing gifts in their mouths of other small animals. It made me think of Sunday. Every Sunday I go do something somewhere else in the state and as I walk the 2 miles into the place, there is a Peregrine that haunts the trees.
I had a hot date the other night.
Shall I tell you about it?
It came after I did what is my newest habit, being part of a zen sitting meditation group. I am the backup leader and I also provide the breathing lesson before and the zen teaching after. The joke is that I am not a zen master but I have one I see each week. She is wonderful and is training me as to what to bring to the group each week. We have talked about all the different styles of zen and of the need to be cautious with zen teachers. Zen, in the wrong minds, can be very hurtful. I am fortunate that I am listening to my intuition more and more and choosing to avoid certain groups and teachers – just because.
Anyway…after all of that, I stayed behind in the dojo to meet my date while the rest of the group went out for drinks, appetizers and bonding. I was nervous. I didn’t think they would show. We had made the date the previous Saturday and here it was Wednesday and they were not there.
And then the door opened.
And there she was.
Sensei’s mother. All 67 years of her, smiling, taking off her shoes and apologizing for being late but you see, today was the one year anniversary of her mother’s death and she had wanted to wander. She wandered all day and then looked at her watch and realized that she didn’t have her sword with her so she had to go home and get it.
She is a swordsmen. And the sword…unbelievably beautiful.
We had made a date to practice our disciplines together.
We turned out all the lights. Lit some incense and divided up the dojo. I took the upper ¼, by the plate glass windows looking out over the street where the heavy bag was. She took the rest, all 40 x100 feet of the white padded room. And we started.
I used to box. I used to have my pro license. But boxing is a sport of youth and I have lost my anger which is what made me so formidable way back when. But I love the absolute harmony of body, mind and rhythm. I work the bag in 10 and twenty minute rounds. It is silent except for the steady punching of the bag.
She is behind me doing kata. The sword is sheathed and at her side. She is quiet. Moving so slowly sometimes it is hard to tell she moves at all.
The whistle of the sword through the air, so suddenly unsheathed and loosed.
I turn, but she is in seiza again, quiet, still and the sword is sheathed and by her side.
So the night continues, we supported each other in our practices just by being present in silence, in darkness. After, we sat seiza in the center and talked for an hour about all the minute details of our disciplines and told stories about how we learned.
We are going to continue dating.
Maybe two or three times a week.
It is that serious.
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