This saying reminded me that some forms of entrapment can turn out to be for our best—the entrapment of love, for example, love in its many confusing, rich and contradictory forms, several of which I experienced.
First, the quiet, sustained and abstract love of the life at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center, where we were staying, the daily practice of living in a community, mindfully created according to the Zen precepts to nourish all who come there, either for individual retreats or as we did, on a weekend sponsored by Earthwalks, New Mexico, the extraordinary not-for-profit created and sustained by my friend, Doug Conwell.
Bodhi hosts all comers in a motel-style building above the rushing waters of the only flowing river I’ve seen here in many months, adjacent to a pair of hot mineral springs. Soaking in the hot water while a winter storm rushed in with big-flaked snow produced another version of the physical excitement I felt walking barefoot on the icy cement outside of the zendo as we lined up to go in for our 5 AM meditation.
I don’t know anything about the Rinzai Zen Tradition, but seeing the way the daily meditations and the wonderful food was prepared by the wwoofers—young volunteers who come to live and work at the center for weeks or months—seeing the garden preparations, the greenhouse full of baby plants, and, above all, the powerful connection made here, minute by minute, between and active spiritual life and service—this was, for me, inspiring.Then we had the delight of sharing in a flute making class with middle schoolers at the Jemez Pueblo charter school. Our teacher, Marlon Magdalena, a Jemez artist, educator, and performer, kept a bunch of young students mesmerized during an entire morning, cutting and sanding sections of bamboo. Marking off the four finger holes, then drilling them, fitting the little bit of bamboo above the mouthpiece, then learning to play the flute was, for me, my first introduction to a wind instrument and to the patience and care making one requires. And each of us got to take a flute home.
The next morning, a big gathering of neighbors from the surrounding territory and from the Pueblo allowed me to believe that all of us, no matter what our backgrounds, are united in our search for peace and our love for this threatened earth.
The gathering, which was addressed by two Jemez Pueblo elders, replaced our planned work activity, helping to plant the gardens, which couldn’t happen because of the snow. Every Earthwalks expedition includes a work day so that we come not just as tourists but as helpers. As we cleaned up our little rooms and changed the sheets for the next visitors, I was reminded, again, of how important shared work is to any worthy community.
May the Pueblo, and Bodhi Manda Zen Center, continue to flourish and the inspire us.