“Monks in the Snow”
I took a writing break last week. The era-changing snow bomb avatar-raising cyclone led to so many school closings that there just wasn’t mental space enough to do more than romp endlessly with A, have circular conversations with R, and of course do pleasant cold weather things like chase down hot cups of flavored tea, read piles of library books, and pretend to be sleek while layering lumpish fabrics that make everyone look like Sleep Roll Sally.
But whatever got us through the polar vortex must be declared a win. It’s a balmy 20 degrees Fahrenheit today, which means we are already less lumpen, ready to rush out and line the streets to cheer on any parade, really, such are the ways in which winter gently messes with our marbles.
Such enforced encloisterment. Such inward gazing. Such a lack of pull factors from the external world. A’s monkish little heart responded with characteristic delight. He donned his favorite yellow shirt every day (saffron, yellow, who cares), perched on his head in bed with yogic serenity, and pondered the path of ascetic bliss before him. Occasionally, his favored acolytes were allowed to feed, water and hug him, but otherwise, A’s mantra was Gentle Noes, Tethered Ones.
He doesn’t need to know that his serenity was almost entirely possible because the heat, electricity and internet somehow remained intact. Even sadhus like their escalator videos on YouTube. As a meditation aid, of course.
As any guru must occasionally do, A had to leave his ruminations to scold us when we strayed from the path of perfection. But he left open the door for penitence. We earned back his favor through godly cleanliness, lowered voices, and unquestioning adherence to our appointed duties.
Now that the brutish outside world has claimed us all in various directions, it is time to test our resolve. Will we adhere to his strictures, or will we relax our moral certainties in times of plenty? It remains to be seen.
To all the tethered ones, I salute you for bending to the will of the storm. To all the sadhus, big and little, I hope we lived up to your higher purpose. And to those not inducted into the temples of service, please save us a spot next to you at the pub. We are not that saintly, and sometimes need a little bacchanalian chaos in the company of our naughty friends. But don’t rat us out to the sadhus, k?