A Walk at Night

I finished my evening meal at about seven o’clock. At this time of year that is well past sunset. Tara the cat was out. I decided to go for a walk. I went out round the north end of the house, where there is a low wall. Although the sky was clouded over, the three quarter moon was visible, the racing clouds skimming its surface. I had brought a torch but did not need to use it in part because the moon shed adequate light, in part because I know the terrain intimately.As I stood gazing at the moon, Tara appeared, as out of nowhere, on the wall beside me. If there is a chance of a walk together she is always game for it. I gave her a stroke and we each in our own ways showed our pleasure in meeting.

Slowly I made my way across the lawn onto the meditation path. It was darker here due to the overhang of trees, but the absence of leaves meant that the moonlight still penetrated. I made my way slowly so that Tara had the sense she was welcome to accompany me, which she did. Soon she scampered past and was walking a metre in front of me with the tail up in a question mark shape as she does when feeling confident.

I was, all the time saying nembutsu, sometimes silently, sometimes out loud. Tara responds positively to the sound of chanting. I think she takes it to be a kind of human purr. There are several partings of the ways as we make our route along the north side of the field. I should explain that here the path is completely enclosed by high blackthorn bushes that in some places meet overhead turnng the path into a tunnel. I have to keep to the path, but Tara can take short cuts when she pleases by running through the thorn bushes as she is low enough to go under their spiky branches.

Frequently I stop and take in the quiet atmosphere, the tangle of twigs and boughs, the solitude and the dark. We turn the corner and make our way along the east side of the field. Here the path is similarly enclosed until we reach a stand of damson trees where it curves round and opens up a little, allowing a better view of the sky above. Here Tara takes one of her short cuts and I hear her faint mewing some distance ahead of me - some distance because I have to take a longer route to get onto the path along the south side that she has already attained. Here there are taller trees on the left and more thorn on the right. Up ahead is the bamboo grove, silently swaying in the wind.

The air is cool but not biting. Walking slowly in it is a bit like swimming, though requires less effort. We come out of the enclosed path by a large stone cairn that we refer to as the stupa, though it contains no relics. I stand and observe. Tara runs across and dashes to the top of the cairn. She likes to scale heights of any kind. She is silhouetted, a grey shape with a flash of white chest, standing out in a grey world. With the sun gone, there is no colour and the many shades of grey create an atmosphere of calm.

We stroll slowly back to the rose garden and I sit for a while on the stone seat, enjoying the night. Tara inspects the roses for any signs of rodents and then climbs to the top of the Aphrodite rock, so as not to miss another silhouette opportunity.

After a few more malas of nembutsu I walk over the the great walnut tree. Standing under it one can look up through the mosaic of bare branches toward the moon that keeps emerging and disappearing as the cloud speeds by. Of course, soon Tara is high up in the tree looking down at me firstly from one angle and then another as she dashes from branch to branch with remarkably accurate leaps.

After a while I tell her I am going inside and start to slowly move toward the house. She is quickly at my side again and we go in to the kitchen, our evening stroll complete.

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  • Thank you Vajra, Angela and Attila. Yes, I'm glad it enabled you to be here in this wonderful place. Observation is meditation, but it reveals depth, not just a surface. I love the words "delicate and chaste play of your unobtrusive relation" - very nice turn of phrase.

  • Some people like to say that pure observation is, in and of itself, our chief virtue. Sometimes I incline to embrace the verity of that statement, but your beautiful short account seems to teach otherwise. The presence of Tara and the delicate and chaste play of your unobtrusive relation makes the experience truly deep and moving. Let Tara scale the shoulders of Husserl and she let you see much farther :-).

  • Thank you David........I agree with Vajrapala Lut.....sometimes I feel the lack of nature and space, so your description is a very nice sound!!!!

    Amo Amida Bu

  • Very lovely. Thank you to share. You described your walk so natural, I had the feeling I was walking with you two in the garden of Eleusis and enjoyed the dark, the view, the smells, the sounds.....

    Namo Amida Bu

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