meditation, poetry, zazen, zen

Winter Moods February 4


It’s turned colder over the past several days following a late January warm spell. The creek still trickles, but less each day. The Great Horned Owl still calls before sunrise. As I sit in the barn zendo bundled with double blankets and thick ski gloves against the 10 degree cold, there are these two sounds.  Then the owl at some point quiets. Then the only accompaniment to the breath in this belly is the creek and the closeness of the cold. Then there is only this belly pushing up and out and then falling, sometimes  as smoothly as water sliding over clear ice and sometimes falling in small fits and starts like a leaf carried downstream, occasionally caught in eddies or bumping into rocks. This breath also will quiet for good some day. The belly will rise no more. The cycle interrupted. Who can say when?  You might as well try to predict that magical moment when moving water turns to still ice. For now the breath is the center and all else in the world exists only when given attention, like satellites attracted or inhaled, then let go or exhaled by the inconstant gravity of the mind.

poetry, winter solstice, zen

Things we used to Know- Winter Solstice

nov-feb 2014 172

Before morning, we knew where the sun would rise
At midday, how high in the sky.
At dusk, over which hill it would set.
Then , which star would be first to wake up,
where and when the moon would appear
and in which guise.

We knew that when shadows are longest
still the sun creeps northward
twig by twig, each day
as it rises anew in the southeastern sky.
We knew the startling hoot of the great horned owl
would come one moon before
the “phoebee” call of the chickadee,
and the phoebee call one moon before
the sap would drip from broken maple branches.
We may have dreaded cold-hearted winter then
but the return of the light was not in doubt