Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cold Silver

The silver was burning cold to my touch, cold with the water that comes down the Bull Run River from Mt Hood. I had let it run till it was cold. A waste of water -- it may well look like a criminally extravagant waste of water, by the time this century is over -- but it was delicious. I drank my own share, before filling the pitcher and carrying it to the shrine.

The idea of offering water to the buddhas is to offer something by ordinary standards worthless, but made valuable, by the intention of generosity -- turned into a precious gift. I am clearly cheating. I prize this water. One of least endurable parts of living in the urban East, for me, was the poisonous metal-tanged stuff that came out of the taps. I hated drinking it, and I cooked with it reluctantly.

Cold to the touch. As soon as I touched it, I thought, "Oh, I will blog this!" I was picking up the bowls to empty them after a brief sit. An embarassingly brief sit -- probably the whole ritual of cleaning the shrine and filling and emptying the water bowls and saying the prayers took longer than the meditation. But I soldier on despite the embarassment: I've learned better than to slight the importance of setting the context for meditation. My protestant-trained sensibilities bridle at it, but if I scant the ritual my practice attenuates, and then disappears. "Let them not challenge to themselves a strength they have not..."

What was it, that I was going to blog? I don't know, I haven't reached it yet. The cold metal startled my fingers -- I guess I hadn't sat long enough for the water to lose its chill. Maybe what I was going to blog was just the startlement, the sensual power of experience when my mind has been slowed down a little. I got more pleasure from that touch of cold silver than I have from many pleasures "got 'tween sleep and wake," or rich dinners absently bolted. The clarity of it is still singing in my finger and thumb, a day later.

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