Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Me Outta Here!

Snow days make me want to run away!

Especially when the kids are underfoot, I can't accomplish anything "productive," and yet it's too cold and there's not really enough snow to make playing outside fun.

If I can't be all alone with a fire in the fireplace and my Kindle, I'd like to be somewhere warm, sunny, and beautiful.

Yesterday, I came across this photograph of the entrance to Manzanita Village. It's a Buddhist-ish retreat center in the high chapparel north of San Diego, where I first met my teacher Caitriona Reed and her partner Michelle. It was here, almost 12 years ago, that I was intoduced to Buddhist meditation & thought.
I  moved east that same year, and have only been back to Manzanita Village once, but I find that my heart goes there often.

Here's the entrance to the zendo. Why do I have such vivid sensory recall of the cool walls, the sunlight, the smells and sounds of the fire in the woodstove and the incense burning? I am sure that it's because all of my senses were heightened at that time, doing sitting practice several times a day, and leaving aside all other concerns.

I read this morning that Edwidge Danticant, a Haitian-born writer, has created a children's book about the earthquake last year in which a small boy, trapped for eight days (that is the name of the book, EIGHT DAYS) imagines all of the places and things of his native land that have brought him joy and pleasure, including the farm where he spends summers, the sunshine and rain.

The zendo is an adobe structure that may have been a stop on the mail route through the deserts of SoCal. Perhaps it saw hours and days of bustle, stress, worry, sorrow and even violence in its former life. Yet under Caitriona & Michelle's loving guidance, it has been transformed into a place of peace, solace and wisdom.

To me, that is the essence of what some call the spiritual journey, but I will just call life/awake. We must go back time and again to the source, the place within us that knows peace, forgiveness, and love.

The folks at Manzanita Village built this tiny cottage for individual retreat. It's made of hay bale with a growing roof.  If you are going to Southern California, you'd be welcomed warmly. The food is fabulous and the people are genuine. I have been turned off by so many iterations of "spiritual" people who are full of themselves, striving for perfection, or looking for a quick fix. I was so blessed to find Caitriona and Manzanita Village and I can go there, at least in my imagination, any time.