singing in the cemetery…

Nice hot 4th of July in Walla Walla, WA. There is a smallish group of Buddhist leaning folks here that meet weekly for a meditation and sangha get together. Seems to be about 25 or 30 people that are active in the sense that I’ve seen them at the meditation group or at events they have held. So far my experience of them has been a big yard sale to raise money for the rental of their meeting location and to help support an effort to bring meditation/dharma into the Washington State Prison, which is located here.

Most recently I was kindly invited to the home of a couple in that sangha for a 4th of July pot-luck gathering. There were about 16-18 people there and it was a delight. Good folks, good conversation and a few sparklers being lit as the evening darkened. Someone said that it had been many years since they had held a sparkler and I realized I don’t think I ever had. My little friends and I thought it more celebratory to throw .22 caliber rounds at the pavement to get them to fire off.

Kind of a Darwinian thing, in retrospect.

In the mornings I’ve gotten into the practice of going for about an hour-long walk in a Cemetery near my house. Large, well maintained and founded 1853; so lots of pioneers, settlers, immigrants and the history of the region is written out in the tombstones. Of course like all histories it deals primarily with the culture that dominates, nevertheless it is a “living” story of humans and how we deal with death conceptually; in fear, worry, doubt, hope, assurance, insistence, punishment, reward and sometimes all of those elements together in the swirl of our karma’s.

This morning there were lots of joggers, even some biggish groups of them, and bicyclists and other singular strollers, as well as the maintenance crews doing the mowing etc: During one very quiet spell I heard a young woman’s voice singing and talking in a higher pitched tone and then I saw her, walking down the lane I was walking along, pushing a baby carriage fully equipped  for a long morning stroll; snacks, drinks, a little music (Nice mellow big band jazz, of which I approved.) and with a baby in it.

My heart bounced in Joy!

I had been listening to a Dharma talk in the first half of my walk given, by a good spiritual friend, to the Sangha in Sandpoint a couple of years ago. This talk was part of a series he did on the “Exhortations to the Dying and Dead”, which is a very important aspect and integral part of all Buddhist teaching, irrespective of sect or lineage.

Suddenly, or so it might seem, I was shown the totality of my experience and once again, the benefit of having a context for my life. Not the meaning, but the purpose of it.

The open circle we are not stuck in.

As I passed the young mother and her baby, I said, “A beautiful morning made glorious by a mother singing to her baby in a cemetery.” I often speak out of turn, and sometimes I really can’t help it.

She said, “Oh. Thank you.”

The wood is green then dries.

Used for good it burns as Fire.

Ashes left, fire gone. No

Sign of wood; ashes blow.

No fire now, it was just Time.

We pass through and change.


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