March 16, 2010

Month of Frogs

It's the month of frogs on Good Pond. All night they have a raucous song, chaotic except for the moments when together they suddenly stop singing. They know what they are doing. Some predator in the night comes sneaking in and they go silent as if holding their breath. Moments later they are at it again, a kind of wild, rhythmic calling. This night the whole thing wakes me so, after tossing and listening, listening and tossing, I fix a coffee and come to this conversation.

I'm back so briefly in Olympia and preparing again to go to Berkeley in a few days where, on Sunday, we'll hold an Ordination Ceremony for Rob. We were both students of Kobun Roshi beginning in 1971. Suzuki Roshi had just died and Zen was on the rise. Rob was in his rebellious period, 10 years younger than I, and like others his age, he was not ready and willing to just jump on the bandwagon. But, Rob did go to Tassajara and Green Gulch for three years or more and took the Precepts afterward. This ceremony on Sunday will be a renewal and a coming into lineage with Ryokan.

In the few weeks I was away from Olympia, spring unfolded. Plum, cherry, apple blossoms dot the city and the edges of the woods. Rainier has been visible every day at least for awhile. Its white hair is stringy and reaches to the floor of the horizon. Native mythology tells us that the mountain, Tahoma, is the mother feeding the children. The white snow is the milk flowing into the valleys, the canyons, the streams and rivers nourishing life. As Washington is always so dark, in spring we feel this slow emergence out of the cave of winter. Although it is beginning, we aren't quite there. The weather outlook actually has the word "dismal" written for the description of one day next week.

It's nearly time for Zazen. Since we don't speak in the morning before meditation, I feel writing here to have woken myself into conversation. Not that there is anything wrong in it, but it does set a different tone to the morning. To meet it with no words has a different quality from meeting it with writing. I like both ways. Some days this, some days that. Both ways require listening and that is the key. To be awake and aware to what comes forward is just happiness. It's still dark and the frogs continue. I've to get ready now for the just listening part without words.