After lunch on the third day of the Rohatsu sesshin I'm assigned to kitchen duty. In a Belfast sink salvaged from a scrapyard are three washing-up bowls: pre-wash, wash and a very hot rinse. First the serving bowls and spoons, then the sharp knives and chopping boards, finally the pans and cooking utensils. A female monastic dries and returns them to the shelves and racks. The surfaces and sink are wiped down and the pre-wash is poured through a sieve. Any food scraps remaining in the sieve are tipped into the bucket for compostable kitchen waste. In an old gherkin jar labelled, "Live beings in transit", a beetle attempts to climb the glass.
In his tiny office the Tenzo prepares tomorrow's menu. Breakfast, a hearty lunch (the main meal 0f the day in accord with the Vinaya) amd a light 'medicine meal'. Historically a concession to the harsher Chinese climate. Knots of fragrant smoke drift from the stick of cedar incense on the shrine to Daikoku, the kitchen guardian. Through a mullion window, the sky over the surrounding hills holds a promise of snow.
A darkened kitchen
but for the ladles gleaming
in the moonlight.
Rohatsu sesshin (Jap.): A seven-day intensive meditation retreat, usually in the second week of December, commemorating Shakyamuni Buddha's parinirvana (having reached the stage of a 'non returner' Buddha's on death are released from the cycle of death and rebirth).
Tenzo (Jap.): The Head Cook, second only to the Abbot in Zen monasteries.
Vinaya (Sanskrit): The Code of Conduct for Buddhist monastics.
Best wishes, Stuart.
I love this, and it makes me look forward to the next sangha! The haiku leaves me with a sense of wholesomeness?
I've been away on sesshin (Jane Spray was there too!) and this was the perfect haibun to return to. It catches the reverent, quiet , vividly ordinary atmosphere, and the haiku is a lovely suchness image.
Pleased you liked it. A haiku to be added:
under chareed skins
the pulp of baked carrots sweetens
the astringent sesshin