WATCHING THE DARK

The Winter Solstice is Wednesday, December 21st this year.

The longest night of the year. Light a candle or two.

The late Stone Age, roughly 10,200 BC is estimated to be the earliest period that humans recognized the Winter Solstice. Monuments such as Stonehenge, in England, Newgate, in Ireland and Maeshowe, in Scotland are aligned with the Winter Solstice sunrise. It was then and is still, an event of mysterious significance.

For many years, when I lived in the icy-cold, dark forests and hillocks of Northern New Hampshire, I fervently anticipated the Winter Solstice. The sun would (some days) come up over Mason Hill around 10 and by 3 in the afternoon Pumpkin Hill was already casting long, cold shadows across the cabin yard and studio. I dreaded Winter’s frigid cold and the seemingly endless dim days and the solstice was the harbinger of hope. The celestial certainty of Earth’s wisdom; unrefutable seasonal change. A new season, albeit winter, but from the Solstice on, the days would begin to lengthen. The slow, but assured, steady increase of the light of the Sun!

The Solstice is a cairn-in-time that marks a turning point. So many of the processes of constant of change; rejuvenation, fresh understanding, beginnings, and renewed commitments, are born from the darkest times, the deepest velvet of no-light, inky, mysterious and dreamlike. The Solstice was then and still is, a time of rejuvenation.

The Sandokai states: “Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness; within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light.” What stands out is the looking for. Looking seems to refer to seeking, grasping for it. We need not look for it. Yet we do experience darkness and light, we feel it and know it’s there. It’s an awareness of that light, an awareness of that darkness, reaching for neither but dwelling in both simultaneously. Noticing, cognizant and filled with it. Perhaps the Winter Solstice is an auspicious time to be holding our awareness of this; no-light-no-darkness.

~Issan

SCHEDULE 12/18-12/24

MONDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE

MONDAY, 7PM, DREAM KOAN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM

WEDNESDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE OR ZOOM

THURSDAY, 6:30AM: At the TEA HOUSE or ZOOM ZAZEN & Recitation of the Aspiration Prayer of Samatabhadra

         DOKUSAN WITH ISSAN SENSEI

FRIDAY, 6:30AM: ZAZEN AT THE TEA HOUSE

         DOKUSAN WITH ZENHO SENSEI

Deep Peace and Great Love, Happy Solstice!

Issan & Zenho

*Watching The Dark is the title of my favorite Richard Thompson album!

Here’s Noah’s poem for us this week:

The falcon flew to me

And I had a choice

I knew which one I wanted

But was it that easy 

Just to choose and it would be?

Is love an emotion?

Or is it the river of emotions 

That I wade in 

Until I am pulled in 

Drowned in 

Myself 

At last 

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