Stayed with our friend, Mahala, this week in South Strafford. She gave us a book about bowls, called "Everyday Sacred" which tells a story of "the begging bowl." It's about some monks who live on a mountaintop and every day they descend to the village carrying their empty "begging bowls." Whatever is dropped into their bowls is meant for their daily nourishment . . . even if someone meanly drops in a stone, it is to be considered as nourishment somehow. So the monk climbs back up the mountain at the end of each day and eats whatever food is in his bowl while considering the other objects and their meaning. Suppose someone dropped a stone, for example. It might symbolize that the monk is too rigid and should be more bending. The important point is to empty the bowl each night to make room for the next day's "nourishment." I decide to use this metaphor on our trip as a way to examine what comes to me each day and why. Might be fun.
In Maine and New Hampshire we had gorgeous autumn weather. Warm temperatures, clear blue skies, bright white sun. In Vermont, it is dark gray skies and freezing cold temperatures, with annoying, relentless winds. We have our first rain, then sleet, then snow. The odd thing is that we feel warm in Vermont. Loved. The word "gentle" keeps coming to my mind. "It's so gentle here," I remark to Ken. "Maybe it's the scenery: gentle hills instead of pointy mountains and craggy seashores." The people seem gentle, too
Bought Calvin Coolidge's autobiography this week. At the end of the book he says:
"The country is better off tranquilly considering its blessings and merits, and earnestly striving to secure more of them, than it would be in nursing hostilities about its deficiencies and faults."
That's kinda why we're taking the trip. America has so much to offer, such different terrain, climates, and people, each contributing to a magnificent American "quilt." But newspapers and television news broadcasts focus on the "hostilities about its deficiencies and faults." It makes one feel as though America is falling apart.
We haven't seen a newspaper since we started our trip three weeks ago and we notice that we're less fearful of the future. We hadn't noticed this while it was happening, but in retrospect we see that reading the daily news had made us shrink as we gradually pulled away from strangers, pulled away from life itself. Now, on this trip we are expanding. We're seeing firsthand the astounding beauty, history and strength of character of each and every state and its people.
Wow. The "begging bowl" thing is interesting. I kept an envelope all week and dropped in items of things that came to us, or things said to us -- good and bad. Consistently throughout the week, the word "patience" kept resurfacing. Guess someone is trying to tell me to be more patient.
Poor Ken, the system manager on this trip, he doesn't have time to do these little experiments like the begging bowl. The burden of making this website work is all on his shoulders. I feel a little guilty that I have more time to play than he does. But that's what he gets for being more technologically advanced. He's the Dr. Spock on this enterprise.