Today’s photo blog post is a tribute to my husband’s uncle, Tom Martin. He passed away last night after a battle with cancer.
When I heard the news I thought about this photo I took two years ago. Cherry blossoms represent the fleeting, yet beautiful, nature of life itself. They are beautiful but we only get to enjoy them for a short time.
Uncle Tom was a good soul. He literally lit up the room when he was in it and he always had a joke or a good story to tell. I am really going to miss him.
Geeky photo bits:
Camera: Yashica Mat 124g
Film: Ektar 100
My dear friend lost her zen teacher last week, suddenly of a heart attack. Not only is this a great loss for her (which in and of itself makes my heart break for her) this is a great loss to my sangha. He was the co-abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center, which is the “mother ship” so to speak. Our little sangha falls under the Dharma Rain umbrella. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for this, and in turn, we owe Kyogen a huge debt of gratitude. His leadership has set the stage for us, and has allowed us to be what we are. I have never met him but I feel like he is a part of me because of his teachings.
Last night at our sitting group we had a beautiful memorial for him. This was the first time I participated in a Zen Buddhist memorial service. It started with zazen and about 10 minutes before we were done with zazen one of our teachers quietly made an announcement about the ceremony.
When I am sitting in the zendo I pick a seat that faces a window and has a beautiful view of Mt. Hood. Generally, when sitting in zazen you are supposed to face a blank wall so you don’t have any distractions. But I do allow myself this one luxury sometimes. I guess because I am still so new at this. I will marvel at the view for a few minutes but then my gaze goes down to the carpet a few feet in front of me (like it’s supposed to).
When our teacher was introducing the ceremony she talked a little bit about Kyogen and how he has been so important for our sangha. As she was talking my gaze went from the floor to the view because something caught my eye. It was light that had caught my eye. Until that moment it had been a gray and dark, rainy day. I couldn’t even see the mountain from where I sat. But at that moment when I looked up there was the most glorious beam of light shining down on the foothills in front of the mountain. I kind of couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It gave me chills and I wanted to grab my friend who was sitting next to me and point out the window but felt that it would be inappropriate to do so. So I sat silently in awe as I watched the clouds light up with the sun.
It was a beautiful moment that filled my heart with hope and love.
The first time I heard this song was in October of 2007. I’d heard the news that my step-brother was found hanging from a tree, alone in the wilderness of Idaho that morning. I wasn’t particularly close to my step-brother but, still, the news cut deep. I was living in Spokane at the time and walked to work. It was a 45 minute walk and I’d just bought the latest Interpol album: Our Love To Admire. I thought I’d listen to it on my way to work. The song, Pioneer to the Falls came on and there was something about the haunting lyrics coupled with the suicide of my step-brother that brought me to a sobbing mess of tears before I made it to work.
I love this song, though it doesn’t make me cry like it once did. I just think it is an incredibly beautiful song with beautiful lyrics. It evokes a story in my soul that I can’t quite suss out completely. It is a story from a dream that is there but not quite there at the same time.
I received some really sad news this morning. My mom told me that her cat, Dexter, died this morning. I am going to miss him. He was such a sweetheart. Such a cuddler. Whenever I picked him up and gave him a little squeeze he would literally hug me back. He let me hold him for a couple of minutes but then that was it. He would wiggle out of my arms and go back to whatever he was up to.
When I lived in Spokane I visited my mom often and since I don’t have pets of my own I really became close to her pets. I love animals and try to make friends with all of them whenever possible. Dexter and I were good friends for most of the time I knew him but there were a couple of years when our relationship was on the rocks. One day I was playing with him and, for some reason, I thought it would be fun to play catch with him so I threw a dog toy in his direction. The toy accidentally hit him. He was absolutely stunned. He immediately left my vicinity, shunning me entirely. For two years Dexter would leave the room when I arrived. TWO YEARS. He would have nothing to do with me. I am not sure what I did to gain his trust back, but he finally decided that we could be friends again and he let me pick him up and snuggle him. But man. That cat held a grudge!