Well it was finally here, I had planned and saved for this event for a year. I had to go at least once. Although things were not perfect, the Universe worked out so I could attend with a clear mind about cost.
I had only a small idea of what to expect, it was to be an adventure, lessons in Zen, Kyudo, and myself.
I was packed and ready…Yosh!!
Intermediate and advance students were to arrive @10:00 am to help with the setup. It 10:15 and I was just leaving the house. I had planned on being there @10:00 but…things happen.
I figured, few would be on time, it would not take all day to setup, we would all day to do it.
Anyway after getting a sandwich & water for lunch, which turned out to be a WISE move and some gas I headed out. It was about 1.5 hr drive to Sonoma Mountain from the East Bay. I was on the road by 11:00 am it was already 80 plus degrees…it was going to be hot! Generally it is cooler in the Mountains, so I had packed more cool weather clothing than hot for that reason…wrong move.
I drove through the wine county up into the mountains, it was a nice drive, Pines, Redwoods, Elms, Grape Vines, the winding Mtn. road, the 325i & I loved it.
I got about 1 set of numbers ( addresses) from the Zen Center and the road ended…washed out! Doh!! I had heard it was out but the directions from Google did not show it. At the damage site I got out an walked across the fallen road after seeing someone on the other side.
It had been from a big storm a couple of years ago, but I did not know just where the road was damaged even through I had heard it was out. Now I know. I got directions from a local and set up to find the long way around on another road. That is after I took a break in the shade for a little bite to eat.
Finally I arrive, some 2 hours later than planned.
The upper target shooting area had already been setup,
they were now in the lower section…it was HOT!! In the 90’s now or more. It was going to be a miserable weekend, temps in the 100. YUK! I like heat but within reason.
I helped with what I could, then settled in to my space. I was staying in a big round tent like structure. There were 10 mattress in a circle around the edge of the tent. This was a first for me, that I recall of this many co-bunkers.
I was never in the service, so this type of group sleeping was new for me. I prepared myself mentally for the task ahead. As it turned out, it was not full the first night there were only three of us. By Thursday there was only 4, there were other guys with the group, but they had other sleeping arrangements. The Ladies had similar arrangments , but their tent was smaller.
Dinner finally came at 6:00 p.m., I was so tired from the heat and walking up and down , up & down the hill from the dorm to the shooting space, to the parking lot, to the kitchen. Whewww. The bath house was nice.
Only 4 years old. Private stalls, I was expecting a group boys room shower, but no. There were two bathing stalls, one with a tub, and a chair, shower. The other with just a shower.
Dinner was great veggie soup, some greens from the garden,
Couscous (sp) grain, cold herb tea. I had a big sandwich earlier also with the heat I was not that hungry.
Coming out of the dinner room I am crossing the bridge and I’m about to step over a stick on the path… The Zen sense goes off, I pause before the next step. Good thing…oh snap! the stick moves… it a snake! Next on the path to the tent there are deers they heading the other way from me…at speed. As I get closer to the tent yet more visitors a couple of wild turkeys…I’m in nature for real… feels good on a different level, even through I am feeling “off”
It is now 7:15 I’m back in the tent. I was sooo bored I figured to write so here I am. Doing my first dorm room blog. I had no idea if I would have time to do anything. I have my laptop, a book and my flute. After reading through the schedules, it looks like I will have 30 min to 1 hour of un-schedule time for myself a day…
The bell is ringing it is time for Zazen in the Meditation Hall…
Bells signal events here at the Zen Center just like a traditional Temple. The Meditation Hall is a converted barn. It is nicely done. The is a 12ft tall standing statue of Kuan Yin inside entrance in the Zendo.
After 40 min sitting, I was suffering. I was sweating like a pig, there was a fly buzzing my head and my back hurt and it was HOT! Every breeze felt like a gift form God. It was a difficult session to sit and focus.
Then a lecture afterward on standing Zen & Kyudo carrying the sitting Zen into motion. Also about slowing down and lastly about feeling comfortable with others, and why certain times are for silence as there were periods of no talking in the center.
I’m already looking forward to this being over! This is not a good thing though. I will need to ganbatte! I know it is good training, but the heat is brutal. It really puts a damper on thing, also I’m as had been said in the lecture, am not that comfortable with all the newness. This will be a challenge for me on several levels.