Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Do the dishes

One morning I rode my breath

into the presence of God

and (not wanting to waste the opportunity)

I asked, what should I do?

Some time later

the answer rose up warm through my soles

on the cold wooden floor:

Go do the dishes

So I did and then, and later,

I noticed it was always the right thing

to wash the dishes

as an expression of love and gratitude

a sensual pleasure

a social solution

the end of a string to lead me out of an impasse

After a lifetime of resisting and resenting

dishes as punishment and oppression,

this humble task became my calling

and my relief

my meditation

my prayer

my blessing

Thich Nhat Hanh says:

Washing the dishes

is like bathing a baby Buddha

Rabbi Abraham Hayyim said:

My most important job is to make sure

that no trace of food remains on the dishes

And Rabbi Shmelke confirmed:

Now you know everything you need to know

Rabbi Kushner says

Allowing oneself to be nothing means that

when we are done with our sophisticated-sounding sentences,

the dishes must be washed.

Beyond nothing-to-think is life-to-be-lived

To clean the dishes with kavanah, mindfully,

is to wash away ego


Here I am,

feet on the floor, hands in the sink.

Here I am,

Pulling my attention back and back and back to this act.

Here I am,

restoring beauty and order,

washing away what hides the divine spark.

Tikkun olan

© January 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tapu te Po

At a reader's request, here are the words to O Holy Night in Te Reo Maori, thanks to Pauline and Joby of Pehiaweri Marae in Whangarei.

NB The te reo is sung in parts, harmonising and overlappping where the /slash/ indicates. Also the last word of the 5th line is cut off of my photocopy so I'm not 100% sure I've remembered correctly. And, of course, it is not a straight translation of the English.

Tapu te Po

Tiramarama mai ra
Tenai te Po/ a te Kai whakaora
He Ao hara/ He Ao Aroha kore
Tu mai ra koe/ hei whaka-tau I au
Nga Tumanako O Te Ao Katoa
Puawai i-te/ ata ko te Ao hou
Ina/ nga reo Ana-hera
Tapu/ te Po
Te po/ a Ihu
Te po/ Tapu rawa
He Ao
Ao marama

(and in English)

O Holy Night

O Holy night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared, and the soul felt its worth.
The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!
O, hear the angel voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born;
O nigh divine!
O night
O night divine!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The sweetest thing

Here's a message put on Al's back yesterday by his grand-daughter, Jessica. He wrote "not knowing it was there I headed for Paraparaumu & wandered about with it there, wondering at the ghosts of smiles crossing peoples faces."

NB All the grandkids call him Fafa.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fouling Persons Take Charge!

A new sign by the river stopped me on a walk last week. I had to read it several times, using various techniques such as cocked head and squinting alternate eyes, to try and make sense of it. The Whangarei District Council line at the top is pretty straightforward but it's all downhill from there.

Looks to me like the (possibly foreign) sign writer was unnecessarily stingy with punctuation. And the graphic seems an ill fit for the text: the picture suggests 'no dogs allowed' but words suggest- eventually, with persistance and imagination- that dogs are ok if under the control of a (fouling or otherwise) person.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hikurangi Carnival

Last Saturday was Carnival day in Hikurangi, and also the annual Santa parade. I went along for the farmer's market and ended up having such a good time I stayed for the parade. Hikurangi is little country town usually so sleepy as to be almost comatose. However, for this occasion almost all the shops were open. All but two of them are second-hand/junk shops but there is also a superette and a wee bakery.

It was a great place for people watching:
  • the four old women line dancing
  • the voluptuous woman in a low cut top exposing most a large, colourful squid tattooed on her right breast
  • the bikers with fancy motorbikes, some with handlebars at head height (don't their arms get tired?) and a couple of huge powerful tricycles
  • the police on horses decorated with blue and silver tinsel

But my absolute highlight of the parade was the Hikurangi School percussion band where the instruments were mostly homemade. There were kettle drums out of barrels, and a variety of instruments made out of corrugated PVC pipes. The older kids played very well as they marched along, reminding me of Strike, an excellent percussion group I've seen in Wellington. The littlest kids walked behind carrying colourful fish on long bamboo sticks.