While driving home I encounter a bad thunderstorm. We have these storms almost every day during the summer here in south Louisiana. The sky opens up and the downpour ensues. Driving can be quite a challenge, as everyone seems to react to the conditions differently. Some people drive too slow, others too fast. It can be treacherous to navigate.
The windshield wipers swish rapidly and noise fills the car. You navigate your way along the Interstate, then in a split second the rain stops and the sun is bright and everything stabilizes. The world quiets, you take a breath. You just breathe.
In that split second as I crossed into the sunlight yesterday, I realized that is how I feel when I come to the Hazy Moon. I cross that threshold out of the storm. When I first arrived at the Hazy Moon it was hard for me to focus; I seemed to be living life like driving in a storm–too fast or too slow, fearful of what may be ahead.
To be honest, I couldn’t stand the quiet and certainly couldn’t be still. A one-day retreat coincided with a vacation I had scheduled. A mysterious coincidence, I thought, and one that I never expected to return. I found the retreat after having read one of Karen Maezen Miller’s books. I wondered what this place was and these teachers were about.
There was something in Maezen’s writing that spoke to me and made me want to see for myself what was at the Hazy Moon. I left for the retreat suspecting that I had found something special, but I could not put my finger on it exactly.
There were more trips, and with each subsequent visit I realized I had indeed found something truly special. I was becoming hooked on the stillness and wanted more, so I came back more frequently and for longer periods. During the last summer ango I began to realize what I had found. I sat among the most beautiful mountains in California right there in the zendo. Their strength and energy supported me, kept me from falling.
Between two trips to Los Angeles during the two-month ango I saw the samadhi of everyone deepen. I saw harmony flow in the simplicity of the days. The head trainee was such an inspiration to a fledgling like me. It became unmistakably clear to me what a special thing I had found in this Sangha.
The Sangha at the Hazy Moon has demonstrated to me what can be accomplished through practice! The kindness, generosity and compassion they have shown me have given me the inspiration l need to seek my way, to allow myself to begin my practice in earnest. I remain humbled and grateful to them all.
A deep, indescribable feeling has taken hold of me. At best I can liken it to a storm beginning to clear. This Sangha has encouraged me and given me the courage to allow myself simply to be. I know I have found a home, family and teacher.
There is no way to explain how truly special my trips are to the Hazy Moon and how much I benefit from the intensive training periods. Now I’m back in New Orleans and I work on my practice, trying to follow Roshi’s instructions. I can sometimes hear his words in my ear and I can hear him counting his breaths with me. I work from a distance, but never alone, as I know I am supported. As I navigate the storms, I try to remember not to lose sight of where I am, simply to find my breath. Most of of all, I realize the warmth and sunshine of the Hazy Moon are never too far away.