When zazen is finished, the bell is rung once (hozenshō).
Twelve months ago, I started Sidewalk Zendo primarily as a way to meet my goal of being more present in my life, starting with being more present during my twice-daily walks with my trusty canine companion, Dash.
Like a prayer wheel, the Earth has made its way around the Sun again, ending up where it started and then continuing on without pause, as it has done for eons.I’m much more of a neophyte space traveler compared to my planet. Even so, unlike the Earth, I am pausing after one full orbit… to reflect on a year of observations and blog posts about a one-mile stretch of black-topped former railroad easement, and to think about my goals for the next trip around our neighborhood star.
I’m also pausing Sidewalk Zendo. I need to reallocate the time I’ve spent preparing posts to some new projects (actually, some old projects that have been on a back burner long enough). I may start this informal kinhin practice again at some point, if I find another path on which to focus my attention for another 12 months… or Sidewalk Zendo may become another example of the impermanence of life on this planet. I’ll have to wait and see how my life unfolds (nothing new about that!).
For those who have read some or all of these posts–thank you. I hope doing so has helped you to be more present and appreciative of your own daily path, particularly the parts that pass through the natural world.
[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: David Gabriel Fischer; clurross; ccarlstead; Steve Tatum; and Cheryl Dimof. © 2018 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]
I’ve always been sensitive to the quality of light. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, from the time I was in grade school, when I thought about going to college I always assumed I’d enroll in some kind of fine arts program. While my interest in creative endeavors has never wained, my higher education training turned down the life science path. Eventually, I figured out a way to combine my love of the natural sciences and the visual arts.
During the darker days of winter my eye tends to be drawn to other landscape features but sometime near the spring equinox my eyes start to tune in to light again… I’m especially drawn to the lovely play of light-and-shadow created by the slender new branches…
…shining through small, translucent leaves…
… stippled sunshine skipping across the surface of water and stone in the stream that cuts through this small college town.
I love the spring bulbs and other flowers, the vocal capriccio of songbirds, the welcome warmth of our nearest star… but it’s the changing angle of sunlight that tells me spring has truly sprung.
Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Andrew Birch; Lena Lozhkina; ; romana klee; Susanne Nilsson; Greg Patterson; and Katerina Athanasaki. © 2018 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]
I’ve seen too many snow and ice storms from mid-March and into early April to let down my guard and admit that Spring has arrived, but the nascent leaves and flowers that have been popping out on the trees along our segment of the Huckleberry Trail have me feeling hopeful. And nervous.
Not that the trees couldn’t bounce back from a hard freeze at this point—there will still be leafy green shade this summer even if Jack Frost nips the noses of these anxious leaf buds.
If we get one last cold snap, however, we may have to wait for 2019 to see the flowering trees and shrubs—redbud, dogwood, crabapple, tulip poplar, lilac, forsythia—in all their glory.
Depending on when that last gasp storm hits, and how warm it gets before now and then, the forsythias may have already peaked, based on what I’m observing now while Dash and I are stretching our legs each morning and evening.
The Weather Channel may claim to be able to predict the future but the only true way to know what this month that came in like a windy, roaring lion, will bring. Meanwhile, I’m doing my zen-best to enjoy both the sun and showers.
[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Lena Lozhkina; Susanne Nilsson; Eli Sagor; Leigh Ann Kopans; Tim González; deedavee easyflow; and Kirill Ignatyev. © 2018 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]