I have been painting, not on canvas, not on cradled panels, no paper involved. No Buddhas, no abstract marks, just swaths of green paint, the colour of Martha Stewart's fancy chicken eggs. Painting walls, struggling with the application of eco friendly paint that doesn't quite cover like that old toxic stuff. But it's done now, the zendo painted, from it's deep purply brown that stole light from the room, to a gentle green that calls the forest in at the windows.
I like the feeling of small accomplishments, a room painted, a meal prepared for visiting friends, a feeling somehow of making this place home, cleaning, tidying, bringing order, becoming the caretakers and grateful dwellers of this place.
We have been working to get the inside things done in the hope that the sun will soon shine and call us out to spend whole days in the great outdoors, the dream of pale sun deprived northerners before summer arrives. We burned that last of some old branches, paying attention to the burn ban that took effect today even though the ground still sucks at your boots at the far end of the pond. Other branches will get composted in piles in the woods. Always honest work to do in the country, work that employs muscles and organs and quiets the mind. An opportunity to hear the towhees screech, see an eagle fly overhead, watch a deer loaf in the meadow.
And while all the work and pretty making is fine, it is important to know, I remind myself, that I can never really control life, by creating a facade of order. I can never stop the movement of the shifting and changing nature of life by trying to arrange things in ways that please me. Trees fall, roofs leak, muscles get pulled. And yet this doesn't negate me working to create beauty or enjoying the pleasing look of a pile of brush removed from a grassy knoll. One thing does not stand against the other. In fact knowing that things will change, that things can turn in ways that may not please me, helps me when the inevitable happens. I am not so surprised. I may still be rattled, but I don't ask, why me, why now?
I am reading a wonderful little book on karma called "Kamma and the End of Kamma" (kamma is the Pali for the Sanskrit, karma) by Ajahn Sucitto. Here's a nice little quote from the book as I head off to read some more of it. I am filling it with underlines and undoubtedly I will share more wise bits as the days go on: "... Because I can't hold onto what I want and can't get away from what I don't want, the underlying mood of self is restless and unfulfilled. I keep trying to find the good state... but this one isn't quite it. Thus there is dis-ease. Liberation from this dis-ease and stress is thus synonymous with Awakening out of the dissatisfied self."