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Silence in the Garden.

26 March 2014

Shortly after my divorce I began going to a Pragmatic Buddhism meditation group. I only went a few times, but it was very interesting. Pragmatic Buddhism, as it was described to me, means taking the philosophical elements and rituals of Buddhist practice, but it strips away the supernatural things. No gods or magic or prayer (and my understanding of Buddhism is so rudimentary that I couldn’t even begin to describe how those things manifest in ordinary Buddhist practice). I found the meditation useful, and I even bought a zafu and a singing bowl so that I could do it at home. Though, I dropped off the practice and it’s been a couple of years since I did any mindful meditation.

Japan, at least the part I saw, is largely composed of enormous, thriving metropolises. I know that the extraordinary crowding of island nations is a relatively recent phenomenon, but based on my week’s exposure to Japan, it seems as though they’ve been confronted with it for long enough to erect a few crucial and well-designed bulwarks against the madness of inescapable closeness. Even in Tokyo, a glittering, clicking cauldron of 35 million people, oases of solitude may be found in the unlikeliest of places.

Japan was characterized, everywhere we went, by the relentless mastery of horticulture. Temples and shrines, of course. City parks. Even the clumsily named “Park for Persons Who Cannot Go Home Again”, where the homeless pitched camp, was gloriously maintained with putting-green grass and elegant topiary. But not only were religious and public works so maintained. Corporate frontages too were tiny masterpieces of bonsai, persistent illusions of nature cradled in the palm of a concrete monster.

In exploring some of the strangely silent green places in Japan, I was reminded that I seem, these days, to spend a great deal of time around noise and cement. There is nothing green in my home. In St. Louis, I had a yard and a flower bed. In ECC, I have a 14’x10′ slab of aggregated concrete. I need to spend a day in the spring making something green of it. I have no hope, nor real desire, to maintain a garden of any sophistication or transcendent purpose. But I would like a place where I might be quiet in the shade of a living thing.

The adventure I’ve begun here, a career and a life and a love, is exciting and full of hope and promise and the kind of illimitable joy that always seemed both foreign and elusive to me. And somehow, in my rush to embrace the things I never knew I could have before, I’ve allowed myself to become separated from stillness and contemplation. Things I was never great at but always drew great solace from. I need to correct that. To make a place of silence in the garden.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Syd permalink
    29 March 2014 09:31

    I have had a love for trees and green spaces as long as I’ve lived. Here on our farm, there are enormous trees of oak and bald cypress and magnolia. We have a huge vegetable garden every year and we also have many flower beds. I need the beauty of green around me, just as the beauty of blue water is an integral part of my life. Maybe container gardening is something you could do. There are many ways to change that piece of concrete into something stunningly beautiful.

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