Now we’re pretty far down the rabbit hole with the Wake Up Ireland crew. Rereading these now, I can see that after a few hours of writing I completely lost touch with reality, and what remains is 30% Bieu Hien, 20% S.J. Perelman, and 70% lighter fluid. Check out parts one and two if you haven’t yet. Without further ado:
I’m drawn into reverie about yet another meeting I attended, a morning session with the group from Dublin. I was up late the night before, contemplating the depth and beauty of nature vis-a-vis my Tropical Aquarium Screensaver. It was a lot to take in, and my mind was still swimming as I sat down in the Transformation Hall. We’d be hitting some pretty involved topics, and I was taken aback to hear a blue gobie deliver a lengthy exposition on maintaining a community Facebook page. I needed to clear my head and quick. I figured that a few outbursts of manic laughter ought to do the trick, and before I knew it the meeting was over and I was being lauded for my lucid participation.
As I stepped out of the meditation hall, the world suddenly went dark. A solar eclipse? No. I heard an orchestra tuning up, and I knew that this was just another brief interlude in the great theater of life.
Scene: Under the linden tree at dawn. Enter a blinking, bedazzled Bieu Hien from stage left. Swaying and wandering to and fro on the stage, he performs an interperative dance to symbolize the miraculous resurgence of consciousness from the depths of sleep. Dainty pixies, here played by a young Robert Redford, portray early morning mist by wrapping our hero in Saran Wrap. Two flutes twitter gaily in the upper branches of the linden tree, until a hawk from stage right snatches one from the nest. The remaining flute takes on a mournful tone . Continuing our avian theme, a yellow finch darts onstage and perches on Bieu Hien’s shoulder.
FINCH: Bieu Hien!
BIEU HIEN: Why, whatever is it, my little woodland friend?
FINCH: It’s… awful. Terrible news! Phap Bieu, the work coordinator. I was… From the veranda, in the garden, I heard..
BIEU HIEN: (patting the finch on his little birdie shoulder) Now there, little one. Take heart! You’ve nothing to fear. One big breath and out with it!
FINCH: He’s plotting against you! He’s feigned illness, and declared that you must be temporary work coordinator! He knows that the Irish Sangha expects a group activity, and he hasn’t organized one. It’s going to be a disaster and you’re going to take the blame! He wants you out of the picture!
BIEU HIEN: (thoughtfully) Ill portent indeed. Phap Bieu always seemed friendly enough. Then again… but I’ll have to attend to him later. It is time to act. I owe you a boon, little finch, and I shall grant it to you. If ever you happen by the monastic residence, stop by my room for a thimble full of instant coffee. But now begone, for I have much to do!
As the finch springs up from our hero’s shoulder, a gunshot rings out and a handful of rice, representing buckshot, is thrown from stage left. The bird falls lifeless to the ground.
BIEU HIEN: (dropping to knees) Finchy, my dearest friend! What injustice has stilled your loyal wings? Why must all beings be trapped in this infernal cycle of birth and death? I’ll not rest until you have been restored to a place of honor in the highest realm of rebirth. Namo Amittaba Buddhaya! Namo Amittaba Buddhaya! (Now joined by a chorus of monks descending into the scene by wire, Bieu Hien chants the name of Amittaba Buddha for forty-nine days. If audience members require refreshments during this period, the concessions stand will be open. As the final recitation draws to an end, Bieu Hien collapses and the curtain falls shut.)
Scene: The curtain opens to reveal a tranquil lotus pond in the Pure Land of Amittaba Buddha. The set is paved entirely in diamonds. If diamonds are unavailable or rendered impractical by budget constraints, Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes (with Mesquite) may be substituted. As the orchestra crescendos, a lotus unfolds center stage, revealing our little finch reborn.
FINCH: I’ll never forget you Bieu Hien! May your virtuous acts continue to ring out across the cosmos! (As the finch takes to the skies, a gunshot rings out and a handful of buckshot, representing diamonds, is thrown from stage left. The bird falls lifeless to the ground and the curtain closes.)
I was rushing all over Upper Hamlet to try and find a task for thirty pairs of hands. Someone suggested the old zen monastery classic: move a pile of rocks from one location to another. There’s a lot of construction happening here at the moment, so we’ve no shortage of piles of rocks, but it just didn’t feel right. Working in a big group like this, you want a project that lights the creative fires of the human soul. We’re more than pairs of hands, after all. We’re each a universe of mystery and surprise, discovering one another in a celebration of life. I wanted something that, even as a simple task, could symbolize this basic truth, and moving a pile of rocks wasn’t going to cut it. Then inspiration struck: what about that big pile of sticks that hadn’t been moved recently? Now here was something we could work with.
The old stick pile is down by the happy farm, left over from a very scary tree-cutting tractor taken straight out of Fern Gully. They thinned out the black pines down there, but left all the limbs where we once had a footpath. As soon as I suggested that our mission might have a practical outcome, the restoration of said footpath, I came under fire from my Irish friends. “Ah, it seems the Irish are all road builders are they? You’re one of them, are you?” said Renny. Road builders? What the devil was he talking about? Now, my historical knowledge doesn’t go back beyond the third season of Full House, so I had to scramble to cover up my ignorance and restore order to the group. Thankfully, my bloodline is a good bit Irish and I just had to show Renny my old file photo. As soon as he saw my flowing Celtic locks he knew that I was one of the team.
We spent the next couple of hours piling up brush and getting ensnared in brambles. It was hard work and I snapped a few candids of our crew. Here Paddy can be seen tearing a limb from the jaws of a great Western European Grizzly (off frame right).
And I guess that’s all for this time. Have we learned anything? I know I have. I learned that if you fabricate most of the story, it’s going to be hard to find photographs to accompany it. Lesson learned, Universe! I also learned that I’m still self-conscious enough to deliberate over which embarrassing old photo to post. Don’t worry, I chose the worst one! Here’s a few more stick grabbing pictures for the road.