Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Looking Back

The first sounds I heard as the year began where fireworks off in the distance. In the silence of the zendo at Great Vow Zen Monastery we knew it was 2008. When zazen ended we rung the bell, 4 times each for each woman attending the retreat adding up to 108. The morning, the first day of the new year, I had offered a vow to not hate it when I cry the next morning, in the company of my Dharma sisters.

The year has given me many opportunities to not hate my tears, not feel like the world is going to end when I cry. Given me many chances to evaluate who I am, greet myself with compassion and truth, and move forward on my way.

AM and CK were the first two people I saw after the retreat ended. I remember feeling my heart skip a beat when I saw them, feeling an important shift. Later I would dismiss it as my being overly-optimistic because I found CK attractive and I was excited that she'd come.

I'd known her just a few weeks at that point. We'd not spent a whole lot of time together in person yet and had exchanged a handful of emails. I did know that I felt a tight, high, nervous feeling in my heart when I was around her. I'd suggested to her that she come out and have lunch at the monastery since she'd be arriving back to Portland while I was in retreat.

I hadn't really expected her to come. I really wanted her to come, but I was trying to keep myself in check and not get my hopes up. The retreat had been very intense, so seeing her felt like this marvelous surprise.

I've been looking back at posts, I haven't looked at my hand-written journals yet. But I can see where the energy started to really shift. I felt it a little at a time, the feeling inside me that I wanted to protect my relationship with CK. The move towards keeping it safe, sheltered until AM and finally decided we really needed to move on from one another.

I am writing before going to the Dharma Center tonight, joining my Sangha and that of Dharma Rain for a potluck, sacred circle dances led by CB, Fusatsu and zazen through the new year. I am really looking forward to be with my community this year, sharing this celebration with them, they have become an important part of my life. I would like to do the Joy in Mindfulness retreat another time, but this year with teacher training it doesn't really make sense from a time or finance perspective.

As the year ends I'm writing while CK folds laundry. An African stew is cooking for us to take to the Dharma Center for the potluck. I made matcha cupcakes just a little earlier. We are settled into these little domesticities with appreciation.

AM is sitting with his Dharma Punx community and will come to the Portland Dharma Center later to join for Fusatsu and zazen. We have hung out the past couple of nights, just watching things like Top Gear and Dr. Who. Have also been joined by DW and many episodes of Battlestar Galactica. I still feel close to him, to them both really, but we all feel the shift in our lives.

The year has worked towards and ending and a beginning. I suppose all years are like that when you look at them, this just feels dramatic because it is my life and it is a rather big change. It feels like the right direction. Not that a relationship doesn't have compromises, but I said to someone this afternoon that in this new way I didn't feel like I compromise in what I needed to be fulfilled, to be my authentic self.

Over and over this year I've learned the practice of the precepts in each moment. There is no way of knowing if I'm making the right choices for 10 years from now. I can only make the best possible choice in accordance with the precepts in each moment. The moments of 2008, looked back at from New Year's Eve, have been joyful and painful, hard and easy, letting go and opening up; I feel in each of them I tried to be mindful of making the best possible choice in each moment.

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