Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Celebration of Winter Grass

Off to a good start today.  I heard from Annette at Millhon Clinic as soon as I'd made my coffee - the nurse  knew it was wrong for a diagnostic mammogram to be scheduled there - at Riverside's Bing Center it gets read immediately by a radioligist and "you'll know right then."  Then Riverside called immediately.  For the friend who commented yesterday that she hoped the nurses would be kind and considerate, they were. 

Even at the James, they're usually not awful, though I ran into one who clearly thought I was an idiot, and did not notice how I suffered while she lectured, me standing naked under a paper towel, tired and scared.  I was afraid to say anything at the time, because mammograms hurt enough when the technician is not mad at you.  It makes me mad now, the people they let into nursing school.

That was why last year I scheduled my regular mammogram at Riverside, which now seems like good karma.  They'll have last year's image right there, and they'll be able to interface with my Good Doctors, all three of whom have knowledge of my health history in specific ways, if they want to recommend further tests or treatment.

The appointment is tomorrow at 10:30, which is perfect, because I have two important things today - a video phone call with Dosho this afternoon, and tonight the memorial service for Sarah Phillips, which will take place during the regular sit of Columbus Zen*.  Sarah was an artist and contemplative photographer.  Here is one of her self-portraits, a smiling Buddha eye -

Below is a photo she captioned thus: 

For an Impressionist, to paint from nature 
is not to paint the subject, 
but to realize sensations. 
~Paul Cezanne 
I notice, looking over Sarah's photos, that we were interested in some of the same images:  clouds, a stone, trees, the last flowers of summer, form and lines, our own shadow.

I remember being fascinated with my shadow at a very young age. And knowing a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that has the line, "And what can be the use of him is more than I can see."  But then you read Jung and John Tarrant and listen to a talk by Larry Ward . . . at least, shadow is useful as a metaphor.  And for survival. And when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  I recited the 23rd Psalm over and over when I was doing radiation for breast cancer in 1997.

Grasses are a special favorite of Buddhists.  I took a number of photos of grasses during my lifetime, including some outside the hospice when Tina Price was dying.  They called to me because there are a number of Buddhist stories and poems that refer to them.  Here is one I marked in Dogen's Moon in a Dewdrop:
A snowy heron in the snowfield
Where winter grass is unseen
Hides itself in its own figure.
You can read more about this poem here.  It is part of a teisho on Dogen Zenji's "Time-Being," which I recall not understanding one sentence of when I read it years ago at the church's Labor Day Retreat.

We lost many people to death this year, including two other friends who were on the Buddha Way.
Leslie DelGigante
Leslie's blog is still up here. Like Sarah, Leslie had been a member of Zen Columbus.  It was Leslie who invited me to the meeting of the small sangha called Zen Corner that needed to leave the Quaker meeting house, and at that meeting I impulsively invited the group to meet in my church.  They meet there today, twice a week, and have grown to about 20 regulars, still peer-led.

And here is Scott, who died so shockingly a short time ago of a massive heart attack.  Like Leslie and Sarah and me, he was a diagnosed bipolar not helped much by psychiatric medicines.  I know other meditators with profound "psychiatric" difficulties, still living.  I hope to write more about this phenomenon tomorrow.
Scott Robinson Columbus

Both Leslie's and Scott's Facebook pages are still up. If you go to them you'll see how many people loved each of them and were inspired by them.
*  If you want to attend the memorial sit tonight, and this will be your first time, please arrive at 7:00 pm for an informal orientation by Tom and me. There will be tea after the service.  First Unitarian Church is at 93 W. Weisheimer Rd. here in Columbus.  Take N. High to Weisheimer and park in the church's front parking lot to go in the front doors.  The church is fully accessible.  All are welcome.

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