I rode shotgun with Joseph to the Dhritarashtra retreat cabin today so I could give him helpful tips about weatherstripping the door. I find that North Easterners really appreciate winterizing advice from Californians.
The thermometer was heading toward 50, a situation I heard a man at the Barnet Store call “a real scorcher.” The Brown Truck is loving this ride; its tire chains devour mud with the same hunger they have for ice and snow.
Having spent two solitary retreats at Dhritarashtra, I know this path has offshoots leading to fresh, juicy blackberries in summertime. I usually eat a handful in the morning and set others aside for a protector offering that evening.
As we round a bend near a gathering of maples, Dhritarashtra waits like an old friend. It’s wearing a handsome new roof, but doesn’t make a big deal about it. Dhritarashtra is an unpretentious treasure.
I peek through the door and see the gomden waiting stoically. This cabin was designed by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche himself, according to Retreat Master lore. We have plans to sand and refinish the floor this year, and to uplift the shrine with golden trim.
I talk advice at Joseph for several minutes, which he accepts with grace and wisely ignores, I suspect. I decide to take a quick lap around the cabin to see if the forest needs my assistance.
With the forest floor revealed, for a day at least, I greet a young tree I’ve known for years. I see it’s still executing a twisted, slow-motion bow toward the sun, framing what will soon be a grove of ferns that give cover to the deer trails east of the cabin.
When I do a retreat here, I relish letting “The Heart Sutra” fly wildly through this section of forest, and wonder what the robins and chickadees make of it each morning.
I’m getting excited for spring, which is only a few days away now. For my fellow West Coasters, spring don’t mean squat to the snow deities of Vermont. Every year at this time, I think, “winter is over!” I know it’s not so, but mind my goes on believing. In a few days, this whole scene could be a foot deep again.
I’m taking all this in and thinking, “my next solitary retreat at Karme Choling should be right here.”
Joseph manages to insulate the door expertly, despite my help, and I think the forest will likewise do just fine without my guidance. So we pack up our tools and let The Brown Truck wind us back toward the Retreats Road.
When I get back to the office, I open my email and find that someone has inquired about doing a retreat at Dhritarashtra this summer. A coincidence, perhaps. To the screen I say ‘Ha, wait your turn,” but then begin pushing buttons on my keyboard to make it happen.
To learn about solitary retreats at Karme Choling, visit www.karmecholing.org/cabin-retreats.
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