I left Telford Buddhist Priory at 9.00 am yesterday and arrived at Throssel around 4.00 pm. That's travelling by car then train and car again. This morning I felt like I was under a train, at least! The impact of covering distances at speed, even slow speed in yesterdays case, cannot be ignored any longer. Perhaps there has always been this pain, this road/rail lag as I think of it. Now with a few extra years on the clock, and hopefully less of a tendency to bash on, I'm giving myself permission to stay with it. That's to stay with the basic pain and allow all systems to re-calibrate, which happens in due time and with adequate rest.
All the same, and in spite of the pain, it is good to be out and about. In Germany a lay woman asked a question at a gathering about a certain consciousness of being around monks and her noting the difference. She was wondering aloud if one was 'better' than another, while at the same time knowing in her gut that there wasn't. This is a conundrum that frequently befalls the seriously minded, lay and monastic. There's many ways to answer but all I could come up with was that most of the time I don't have an awareness of being a monk. Also I don't think, 'I'm now talking to a lay practitioner', or a monk. The contact is more direct than that. What ever exactly I said it seemed to strike home. There is a difference in appearance of course. Robes and a shaved head are still how a monk appears in the world. However there is something deeper than how any of us appear.
Yesterday I travelled in what we call town clothes. We do that when it seems wise to be incognito. From Manchester to Carlisle the carriage, the quite coach in fact, became markedly rowdy. Then at Preston the P.A. announced, due to staff shortages, that the buffet car was now closed. The flow of beer slowed, the mood took a decided dip and turned a bit nasty as well. At times like this I'm glad of trousers, tops, hat and coat to sit inside of.
Alighting (a lovely train term), alighting at Carlisle and leaving the station I came exceptionally close to the whiskers of a mounted police mans horse! There were perhaps four or five in all along with a wall of policemen and women on foot. That's the closest I'd ever been to a police horse in my life. Even in demonstrations in the 1970's the most we ever saw was a truncheon. No guns and horses, if there were any, would be hanging back in a side street. What about us? I announced to an officer on foot as we passengers were being ushered firmly towards awaiting coaches, parked in readyness to transport the visiting football fans. The police ranks broke and I popped out into Carlisle town and was soon loaded into a waiting car and driven home
Just 24 hours later and I'm sensing that systems are close to being back to normal and my ability to string words together is returning, somewhat.
A kind monk had left a welcoming card in my room. Welcome back home Rev. Master Mugo, All is well here. Yes, all is very well here, within and without.