March 30, 2009

Travel to the Mountain

I'm following a long list of preparations to get ready to travel at the end of next week and I'm suddenly horribly busy.  Europe beckons again this spring and I'll be in Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Germany.  At each place I have some teaching to do and I'll also be visiting family in Zurich.  While I'm away I'll do my best to write a few words about the places I'll visit.  I'll teach at Felsentor in Luzern, Zen River in Northern Holland, and Wind & Wolken Sangha in Schleswig-Holstein, Lindau, Germany.

The weather in Olympia is often similar to Zurich weather which is sulky and changeable.  In both places, when it's beautiful, there are no cities more delightful.  Zurich surrounds the river and the lake and much daily life is found along the lake pathways.  My daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren live three blocks from the lake so the children and I stroll over when we can for a  outings.  The last time I was there I engaged in a game of tag and saw how Julian could easily outrun me.  He was 7 1/2.  Esther is two years younger.  We were playing on a hill where there is a fantastic sculpture by Henry Moore which you can crawl under, or sit underneath and have a picnic.  Anyway, we were running around the sculpture and Julian ran by me and ran down the hill.  I followed and found myself going faster than my legs could and unable to stop.  Fortunately, I was able to some to a halt without being thrown to the ground.  He'll be disappointed when I don't play tag this year, but I think it's time to realize my age.  

Zurich has several wonderful museums which I visit each time I go.  The Museum Rietberg is developing into the museum that has the largest collection of non-Western art in Europe.  Last time I was there they had an exhibition of ancient Kannon Statues from Japan.  Their regular collection of Kannon statues however is nothing to sneeze at, and I plan to visit again.  The Kunsthaus Museum has modern art and is home for the Giacometti collection which Zurich has tried to gather in since Giacometti was born in Zurich.  After he died, Zurich realized their honor and responsibility to house as many of his sculptures as possible.  The Giacometti room is not always very busy, partly because many of the Swiss have already seen it, and also because you have to pay extra to enter those rooms.  I do enjoy going because I am often the only one and I can have a solitary visit for a long time with Giacometti and his work.  The presence of his sculptures endures.

I've the long list to do and the pleasure of being with the design of the workshops which this year is called, "These Mountains are Walking, These Mountains are Speaking."  We'll sit Zazen and also paint and write and consider the spiritual aspects of the mountains and ask how they inform our daily lives.  How do we derive strength from the natural world and how do we find patience to live in  today's world?  We will go to the powerful Rigi Mountain above Lake Luzern for solace and restoration.  I must get ready and I'll write as I go.