The September harvest moon came. I saw it floating above San Fransisco from the hills of coastal Marin. The moonlight kept me awake for days, but the lack of sleep didn't effect my energy. Awake for zazen, awake for harvest. Darkness would come, awake for hours!
The mornings pulled frosty breath from cold throats.The fog migrated somewhere else. Our bone dry ground wasn't good habitat anymore. Bitter sweet to see clear skies, feel a hot afternoon sun above thirsty crops. Hopefully rain will come soon.
And when the rain comes, some go. Seven apprentices, four staff, one elder, one manager, each turn over into something different as the fall sets in and the winter approaches. Some apprentices will enter the practice period, our annual tradition of Ango, inherited from the Buddha's time during the monsoons of India. Some will head off to other farms.
Being comprised of so much water, I wonder how much pull the moon has on us. Like tides that come in and go out, and like lakes in the north that flip before they freeze, we transform. I wonder what's going on in the zendo, in the dark. What threads of our being is the moon weaving?
The tension is palpable. Everyone is sick of being asked about the future, but are quietly considering or fretting about it, while temple advisors try and get answers; who will be here? who will sleep in the zendo for our 45+ practice period with Tenshin Roshi? Who will staff the kitchen, the farm, the guest crew?
So, as a farm, we continue to plant and harvest, hoe and weed, and start to celebrate the transition. First, the harvest dinner and dance. Next, the Greens dinner, at our affliated restrurant in the city. And daily we gather after work to sing songs, play games, make pies, and rest.
Next spring seven new apprentices will appear. It will be my 3rd season on the farm, my last before I head south to our monastery, Tassajara. I'll be sad to leave this sacred valley of holy soil. They say a priest in this lineage needs to do at least two practice periods at Tassajara. I suggest they add a requirement to do a season on the farm, where birth and death become painfully obvious, and the schedule isn't marked by metal bells and wooden hans, but full moons and coyote cries and the showing of plants who need water and compost, air and light.
Harvest Dinner 2013