Return to the Zen Center

After almost 30 years, it was time to go back.

I had visited the Cambridge Zen Center once in the 1980s, back when meditation was considered an odd thing to do. Back before Oprah and Kobe Bryant and corporate CEOs were doing it. I had read the few Zen books that were available in bookstores—The Three Pillars of Zen;  Zen Flesh, Zen Bones; and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

I had just arrived in Cambridge and was eager to meet an in-the-flesh Buddhist who would teach me how to meditate. When I heard there was a Zen center nearby, I made plans to visit. My teacher, I imagined, would be an elderly Japanese monk with a shaved head. He would exude both wisdom and humor.

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13 Ways of Meditating with a Blue Jay

I
I notice a nest on the beam that separates my porch from my neighbor’s porch. A nest of loosely woven twigs.

Spring was cold. The maple branches that brush our second-story porches have just leafed out. My neighbor is away for the summer. From inside, I watch the robins bobbing for worms in the yard below. Screeching jays bully the smaller birds off the feeder.

II
The sight of the nest makes me happy, then concerned that my presence may scare away the mother. How long does it take eggs to hatch? Chicks to learn to fly? Weeks? Months? I don’t want to relinquish the porch, but if eggs are laid, I hope they hatch. Continue reading 13 Ways of Meditating with a Blue Jay