This boat, I paddle myself, along the long winding river. For me I think it is a journey up river, to the headwaters. Challenging, but not impossible. It is finding pleasure in this journey that I sometimes really struggle with, finding joy even in the hardship. This is a lesson I am working on. I find sometimes that Zen Buddhism is almost too esoteric for me, sometimes I just want to sit and meditate, I do not want to contemplate a koan, I do not want to have a discussion with my teacher about where I am in the journey. I just want to stick my paddle in the waters and chop and chop. Left then right. When my arms tire, I want to rest awhile in the easy pools, or perhaps bask on the warm rocks in the shining sun. I know that I must manage the rapids, even when I am tired, I know that there will not always be warm rocks to lie on. I know that sometimes it will be raining or snowing despite my own wishes for a warm sunny day. This is the journey. One moment at a time, one day at a time. Ever moving, ever changing. My boat upon this river.
This day, this solstice day. I sit in front of a large group of parents, teachers, administrators and students. I instruct everyone to find their quiet place, find the quietest place inside you. Take a breath in and as you breathe out, breathe out peace to the whole entire world. The room is so silent I can hear my heart beating in my chest. I wait one breath, two breaths, three. On this day, the shortest day of the year, we will do the Sun Salutation, a greeting to the sun. We stand and go through the poses one by one. And at the end the small group of children and I bow Namaste, to the light inside of all of you. Later, as we wait for a late arrival. I lead the children in more yoga to keep them busy. I look out into a forest of wobbling bodies, sink your one foot into the ground. Root it in. Raise your branches to the sky. We are trees. They laugh as they sway in the wind.
Later I will go to chant at the Zen Center. I want to sing to the world on this auspicious day. This life is a journey. I renew. My year begins today. As the light of day lengthens. I paddle left, right, left. The water eddies around me. I think it might snow.