grapeful weekend


i was having a rough friday afternoon. the transitions between mama’s and dada’s have been key stress points for all of us, and i want to say that this is true mostly of quinn, but i have to admit, on average the transitions are the highest stress level of my day to day life. our coparenting schedule is set up to make transitions pretty much a twice daily event, with saturday being the exception (quinn is with me all of saturday for one reason and another.) at any rate, this particular friday i arrived with the bright idea of whisking quinn off to the beach to have some fun and skip over the transition blues, and he had been obstinately opposed and i had felt major resistance to him having these feelings…

we did end up at the beach, and after tears were shed and if things weren’t totally patched up at least we were running around in the sand. quinn felt chilly in the breeze so we wandered up to the edge of the dunes and picked a spot to sit and have a snack. we turned and saw the glass orb you see above, hiding in the bushes right next to us.

in spite of all my good intentions, the afternoon started out lousy. and in spite of it being so lousy, it was immediately perked up by this magical happening. and sometimes that’s all i need, is a reminder how i’m not in control, i’m not in charge, and i need to let go. i’m grateful for those moments.


on market day we were excited to find organic grapes for sale. this is new for our market, and my poor grape-loving son gets denied grapes on a regular basis because i refuse to buy conventional ones. a little more magic to be grapeful for. (ha.)

then on sunday i ran smack into yet another billboard on the path declaring “you are not in control.” my friend’s chicken flock was reduced in number by one, on a day when i was caring for them. buddleia did not wake up that day, and quinn and i got to lay her to rest out in the woods, under a blanket of leaves. i love animals, but i have to tell you that i could not keep a straight face for the most part because quinn was sure her name was “buggleia”.

“good night, buggleia.”

“mama, will her spirit go into another body?”

as much as i don’t want to let him down, thinking that i have these kinds of answers… i think it’s more important to me to let him find his own answers. even if i do feel i have an inkling, for me, of what is true about spirits and bodies… it seems it’s ultimately up to him. all i know is the more i read about spirituality surrounding death, the more i know i do not know.

“there is no east or west. the sun comes up in the east, sets in the west, but this is merely an astronomical observation. knowing that you do not understand either east or west is closer to the truth. the fact is, no one knows where the sun comes from.

among the tens of thousands of scriptures, the one to be most grateful for, is the heart sutra. according to this sutra, “the lord buddha declared, ‘form is emptiness, emptiness is form. matter and the spirit are one, but all is void. man is not alive, is not dead, is unborn and undying, without old age and disease, without increase and without decrease.'”

the other day while we were cutting the rice, i said to the youths who were resting against a big pile of straw, “i was thinking that when rice is planted in the spring, the seed sends out living shoots, and now, as we are reaping, it appears to die. the fact that this ritual is repeated year after year means that life continues in this field and the yearly death is itself yearly birth. you could say that the rice we are cutting now lives continuously.

human beings usually see life and death in a rather short perspective. what meaning can the birth of spring and the death of autumn have for this grass? people think that life is joy and death is sadness, but the rice seed, lying within the earth and sending out shoots in spring, its leaves and stems withering in the fall, still holds within its tiny core the full joy of life. the joy of life does not depart in death. death is no more than a momentary passing. wouldn’t you say that this rice, because it possesses the full joyousness of life, does not know the sorrow of death?

the same thing that happens to rice and barley goes on continuously within the human body. day by day  hair and nails grow, tens of thousands of cells die, tens of thousands more are born. the blood in the body a month ago is not the same blood today. when you think that your own characteristics will be propagated in the bodies of your children and grandchildren, you could say that you are dying and being reborn each day, and yet will live on for many generations after death.

if participation in this cycle can be experienced and savored each day, nothing more is necessary. but most people are not able to enjoy life as it passes and changes from day to day. they cling to life as they have already experienced it, and this habitual attachment brings fear of death. paying attention only to the past, which has already gone, or to the future, which has yet to come, they forget that they are living on the earth here and now. struggling in confusion, they watch their lives pass as in a dream…

the world itself is a unity of matter within the flow of experience, but people’s minds divide phenomena into dualities such as life and death, yin and yang, being and emptiness. the mind comes to believe in the absolute validity of what the senses perceive and then, for the first time, matter as it is turns into objects as human beings normally perceive them.

the forms of the material world, concepts of life and death, health and disease, joy and sorrow, all originate in the human mind. in the sutra, when buddha said that all is void, he was not only denying intrinsic reality to anything which is constructed by human intellect, but he was also declaring that human emotions are illusions.”

~masanobu fukuoka, one-straw revolution

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