Gratitude in the New Year

Dear Everyone,
Thank you all very much for your many kind thoughts, words and actions in the light of my mother falling and breaking her hip. She and I have been surrounded by such love and generosity that even in the midst of the physical and mental suffering of the past month, we have both felt cared for and supported.

I have thought often of the small Rumi poem:

What does it matter that we have been sleeping?
We are groggy,
But let go of the guilt.
Feel the motions of tenderness all around you,
The buoyancy.

My mother is now home from the acute and rehab hospitals and is continuing rehabilitation through a home health program. She is doing surprisingly well.

Just by chance I recently read a remarkable children’s book by Wendell Berry. It is called WHITEFOOT and tells my mother’s story (and perhaps everyone’s story) through a beautifully magical allegory about a little mouse who is swept away by a flood.

My mother has been sleeping a lot — well and deeply — since she has been home. I have written out and pasted on her bedroom door the following sentence from this little book:

“Her sleep was an act of faith and a giving of thanks.”

May this be true for all of us.

I also want to thank those of you following through on the plan to send the Buddha design note cards to men in our Berlin prison sangha. Landon Hall and Barbara Woodard did a lovely job of giving a sense of those individual men to our Monday sitting group. We hope to continue sending cards to the men on a monthly basis. If you are interested in participating, please let one of us know.

I want to offer another deep bow of gratitude, this time to those of you who have recently supported our Valley Insight Meditation Society financially by becoming active members of the community. Your contributions add to the possibility and the reality of our continuing
Sangha, as well as to the cohesiveness and the faith that is made real in our shared effort of living the practice and teachings.

New Years is often a time when we think about our intentions and our wishes for ourselves and for others, a time to review and reflect on commitments. The lunar New Year also falls in January this year, on the 24th. Tibetan Buddhists consider this the most auspicious of all days for the hanging of prayer flags, and through them, the sending of our deepest aspirations out on the winds to all the nooks and crannies of the earth.

Toni Bernard has written about living the teachings of Dhamma into the difficult situations of our lives in a powerful book, HOW TO BE SICK. She recently posted a short piece on-line titled “New Year’s Resolutions the Buddha Might Have Made.” It’s aimed at people who have little familiarity with the dharma, but it is wise and thought provoking for experienced practitioners as well. You can find it at:

What is your own most heart-felt wish or aspiration? How does it relate to your practice and your understanding of these teachings?

The northern hemisphere has just experienced its darkest time, at least for now, and light is increasing; the seemingly endless cycling of the 10 thousand joys and the 10 thousand sorrows continues. Notice the joys, as well perhaps as the sorrows, with gratitude. Someone sent me an old Charlie Brown cartoon with Charlie and Snoopy holding hands and dancing wildly. The caption read, “What if today we were grateful for everything?”

All best wishes for a happy and peaceful new year as we collectively continue to lean in the direction of “calmly and kindly noticing change,”


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