You want to know how monks celebrate Christmas? Riding an icy tyrannosaurus rex across the Dordogne, spreading Christmas Cheer and striking terror into the hearts of non-believers. I would have told you this earlier, but I’ve been asleep at the wheel over here, so I’m going to backpedal a little bit to convince the wide world that the holidays did visit us here in Plum Village just like everywhere else. A natural place to start is this card I made for my family, inspired by our collective effort a few years back in Tenino:
That’s my big bro getting mauled there. Anyway I like to think that my card was a hot topic for discussion in the monastic residence. It’s more likely that I ran from room to room, telling any brother who would listen about how swell it was. I was doing some sketches to get warmed up, and told Phap Trien:
“When you learn to draw, you can draw anything you want! What am I going to draw? I didn’t practice so that I could draw an apple and a vase on a table. I learned so I could draw myself riding fricken T-Rex.”
His response: “Man, don’t take this the wrong way or anything, but I’m loving your whiteness right now.”
Phap Dan, previously a psychiatrist, had a different take on it: “Oh I think it’s very nice. You did well to make the beast fairly benign. It reflects that in fact it’s not the monster, but the controlling agent that causes all the trouble.”
“I drew a picture!” was my response.
Phap Dan was also the Charlie Brown of our Christmas pageant, putting in extra hours on incredible Christmas cookies and making our Holy Family by hand. Judging by his reverence for Christmas I was expecting a kind of tame, predictable nativity scene. I was wrong, and I think the pictures can speak for themselves.
We also had a couple of advent parties which were quite nice. We celebrated advent growing up, and I remember it as the time of year when, once a week, we lit a couple of candles and turned the dimmer in the dining room to “low”. We’d adjourn to a family gathering around The Simpsons. Now that’s my kind of spirituality!
I wish I had more to tell, but honestly I’ve spent most of the past month asleep. I’ll do my best to remain conscious more in the coming weeks and keep everyone abreast of all the important developments around here.
And speaking of real news, RIP Red Bean. Taken from us by the lung cancer in the 2012th year of our Lord. The Sangha chanted for him, and we expect him to be reincarnated as a monk.