As I said the dedication prayers last night the rain rattled on the leaves outside the windows, the candle flickered, and the little wooden Buddha behind it trembled. The long-delayed rains seem to have set in.
I stood up gradually, as is prudent these days, after a long sit. Stretched out my legs, waited a bit, grabbed the side of the bed and eased up onto my knees, where I waited a bit more, before I stood all the way up. My right hip doesn't like the long sits now, and I favored it a bit as I gimped over to the shrine and picked up each offering-bowl in turn to carefully empty it into the pitcher.
I paused. I was in my stocking-feet -- the back porch would be wet. So I set the pitcher down on the floor, took off my socks, and dropped them in the sock-basket. Then I picked up the pitcher again and turned off the one dim lamp. The room was dark, except that a little light gleamed throught the colored window from the neighbor's kitchen. I stepped slowly to the door. The knob met my hand exactly where I expected it. I stepped through back into the workaday world.
Yellow light. Martha and Alan were at the living room computers. Neither looked up as I emerged, but Martha's voice caught up to me, musical, unhurried, as I walked throught the unlit kitchen. "Hi hon."
"Hi," I answered. I opened the back door, and stepped out into the night wind and rain. My bare feet rested happily on the cool wet boards of the the porch. I looked up at the pale, turbulent sky, for a moment, feeling a few sparse drops blow up against my face. I stepped carefully -- it was slick -- to the rail over which the mass of clematis was collapsing, and poured out the offering water, which coursed down through the clematis branches in elaborate patterns -- I couldn't see them, but my feet could imagine them. A last look at the sky, clouds running before the wind, ghosts driven by ghosts. Then I went back in.
"Reading time?" asked Alan.
"Sure," I said.