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Arishiyama is also the home of the UNESCO World Heritage temple, Tenryu-ji. This place was the site of the first Japanese Zen temple (in the 9th century) and in its current form continues as a temple of the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.

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The 14th century designed Zen garden is, like the temple, set among the backdrop of the surrounding mountains. The designer was Muso Soseki and his approach of incorporating the external environs of the garden is called shakkei, which means borrowed landscape.

 

Muso Soseki (1275-1351) was hugely influential in establishing Zen Buddhism in Japan. As well as being a Zen Master and garden designer, he was a poet, teacher and calligrapher.

This poem (translated by American poet, W S Merwin and Soiku Shigematsu) appears in This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World, curated by the wonderful Naomi Shihab Nye.

 

 

I spent the first few days of November in the peaceful surrounds of Lake Kanuga in North Carolina at Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp. This inclusive, communal and creative gathering is now an annual must-be-there event for me. I always return home refreshed, encouraged and full of new insights, ideas and skills.

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morning-on-lake-kanugalabyrinth-at-kanuga_fotorPoet, Glenis Redmond, shared her powerful words which now, more than ever, will be needed to jolt us out of systemic injustices that exist across the world.
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Jonathan Santos sang songs of ancestors and breaking through.

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Folded pieces of paper tucked into books can reveal themselves decades later. In this case, a poem by Judith Rodriguez. I liked this poem when I wrote it down some decades ago. I still like it.

 

talking of people

Talking of people I love

I grope for traits

to dignify and endear them, move

you nearer my place

where it’s a celebration to forgive.

 

And I always fail. I’m staggered

when I start cads,

bigots, hypocrites, blackguards

with my unwary words.

Phrasing all of anyone’s a hazard;

 

their music comes so varied

it takes thousands

of listening moods to be married

or related. Vows and

gene-sharing have miscarried

 

oftener, worse than fetuses.

Though you sometimes purchase

illusion, weeding a field that has

upstanding virtues,

there’s a hardy strain in weaknesses

 

at least for loving: they’re funny

they last. Classic

folly – perhaps too many

for most – emphatically

disgracing us graces the randy

 

centuries that, hot after living,

warm immortal

gossip, and our rage for believing.

May I glow gaudy

in the spate of a friend’s forgiving!

Judith Rodriguez

 

 

purple rose

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.

.

.

.

.

on a day when a friend left us

There is comfort in routine.
Familiar repetition,
the reassuring deja-vu
of an ordinary activity.
It speaks
as if everything will be alright,
that this will always be here,
eternal,
building in the memory bank.
Yet it won’t. It really won’t.

Perhaps the so-called ordinary
calls for a response that sharpens senses,
as if to see and hear it for the very first time,
every time.

Yet seemingly repeated actions
are different every time.
They diverge from the norm
with nuances large enough for us to notice,
if we care to notice.

For instance:

when hanging out the washing,
soak in the sunshine’s warmth,
peg slowly, pay attention.

when pouring milk in coffee,
inhale the aroma,
dip your finger in the crema.

when waking to soft bird sounds,
differentiate them,
lie still and breathe the morning in.

This mortality of ours demands
sparklers and laughter,
not ennui and weariness;
mindfulness and regard,
not lethargy and indifference.

It feels as if it will always be here
yet it won’t, it really won’t.

It feels as if we will always be here
yet we won’t, we really won’t.

Lynn Buckler Walsh