Bottle #117, Dear Park Monastery, Escondido, California, USA

Flight to Morning, Brother Heart

Back in 2003 I was a newly licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Los Angeles, and a teacher had taken me under his wing. An older man, he was slowly transitioning from working with his hands to teaching, and was a master of several modalities. I worked in his studio with him, taking some of his clients as he felt I was ready. There was an altar in the waiting room that was covered with relics from his amazing life. The only book, the only words, on this sacred space was a small book by the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. It is called, The Long Road Turns to Joy. I must have read it a hundred times. That magical piece of good fortune set a wheel in motion, and now thirteen years later I am a Buddhist Monk, an ordained disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Just last month working with a group of teenagers at one of our retreats, we did an exercise on connecting our gratitudes and our aspirations as we moved into another calendar year. Here is what I wrote on two sides of a piece of parchment paper and tied into a roll with a bit of yarn: Gratitudes 2015-16 A few times now, over some years, I have very softly made a very big statement. I have said, sometimes with reservation and qualification, that the purpose of my life is to understand LOVE. I am so grateful that the world, the whole beautiful, unfathomable world, opens itself up to me everyday like a flower to the sun, and that I keep shining the light of my life on it, over and over again, ceaselessly and without any meaningful sort of discrimination. What luck.

Aspirations 2015-16 To be the wonder-filled, perfectly flawed little wavicle that I am, and nothing more, nothing less. Trusting as much as trying, being as much as doing, deeply knowing as much as learning. Maybe this is my Job on Spaceship Earth with a capital "J", to carefully and aimlessly relax with one-pointed concentration into being me just me.

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