Last Autumns Leaves

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This week there has been a feeling of strange energy, something like sitting in a waiting room at a train station and having faith the train will arrive, yet enough doubt to cause unease. I mention this in our Zen community What’s App to see if others in the group have the same sense. This morning after Zazen, it comes up again, everyone agreeing it has been an odd week. We talk of winter’s transition to Spring and the current cold weather forcing nature to wait before bursting forth. The warm spell that we enjoyed in the last couple of days of February disappearing, winter determined not to let up just yet! This year’s Spring is different, as it waits to burst forth; we too are at the mercy of the forces. We sit patiently waiting for vaccines to take effect and the death toll to fall, urgent in the desire to return to our cycle of normality.

I wander into Coventry City Centre, taking some exercise trying to escape the Lockdown. It is cold, the sky overcast, the buildings looking drab and grey. The square empty, shutters down, a homeless woman sitting hunched between two doorways, pushing her Starbucks cup at me and gazing hopefully, passers-by few and far between. There it is again, hanging in the air, just out in front of me unseen a sort of anticipation, I can’t see it, but I can sense it, something waiting to happen. And from that emptiness, a glimmering light, the sound of drilling, a man emerges his fluorescent yellow jacket contrasting the day. A woman smiles, sweeping the winters debris from behind stacked chairs of the next door cafe. A gang of painters sing across the square as they refresh a shopfront, three doors away, ‘Top Shop’ stands lonely, sad and forsaken, nature leaving nothing untouched.

I keep leaning into the week, attentive, listening deeply, before I am brought face to face with Ryokan, a Zen Master and hermit, famous for his calligraphy and poetry. A survivor of the Cholera Pandemic sweeping Asia in 1820, he speaks to me!

When Spring arrives

From every tree tip

Flowers will bloom,

But those children

Who fell with last autumn’s leaves

Will never return.

Ryokan

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