The Longest Day

The summer solstice seems to have sneaked up on us somehow – no doubt an effect of having been in lock-down since the spring. Nevertheless I have enjoyed the longer days – with my eternal caveat that they are longer in my native country, though I will always concede that not having the shorter days in winter here is more than enough compensation. Right now it is getting light around five, and dark around nine, which, as was true in my years at Zen Center, is pretty much the time I get up and the time I go to bed.

The weather has been a little hit and miss – there have been strong winds and some milder temperatures, but also a few clear, still warm days. I have been glad to ride on those, less so when heading into the dampness of the fog, as I did last Sunday, and to a lesser extent very early on Friday – having been woken by the bin men while it was still dark.

The solstice is not the only notable occasion right now of course, with Juneteenth in the forefront of people’s minds, and fathers’ day, and an eclipse. However, after the tumult of recent weeks, there does seem to be a sense of pause, as people gather their breath and figure out their next moves.

Giving a talk to the Hebden Bridge group this past Wednesday, continuing to develop the conversation in that sangha, in tandem with Catherine Gammon, it was hard to pinpoint a theme – though the word disruption came to mind during the zazen beforehand. So many things have been overturned since the beginning of the year, and we have somehow dealt with that, and try to figure out how we move forward when everything is so different.

I have also been thinking about The Whole-Hearted Way, since I am offering an online class at Zen Center on Dogen’s Bendowa next month. So I have a sense of the continuous practice that we undertake – and that to do that, we have to let go of notions of enlightenment as a one-time cure-all, such as I suspect many of us start our practice with. We continue to practise, doing the work when we don’t know how to do the work, which aligns with our bodhisattva vow. We strive to help, or at least not cause more harm, and we sit with all the discomforts that arise, as best we can.

Maybe it is always like this, but it feels particularly tender right now.

IMG_5769Even as other streets get busier, Great Highway is still thankfully closed to cars. The sun was more or less up, but it was obscured by fog on Friday morning, and the wind was strong.

IMG_5776Further east, a little while later, the view from Billy Goat Hill.





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