“Therefore we say that there is no mountain barrier and no river separation. The bright light penetrates every corner of the world.”

Great Master Wanshi Shokaku


This is perhaps one of my favourite quotes. Every year my temple sends out little red greeting cards with this printed on them. This quote was also put onto my father’s funeral announcement all those years ago. I think he would have liked it very much, his spiritual practise was very much linked to the natural world.

At this time of year it can get a bit overwhelming if one is sucked into the whirlwind of the secular aspects of the looming holiday. I am not nuts about the season and it tends to make me “scrooge-like” if I am not careful. Luckily there are always little pointers to the reason for all this whirling about, underneath the noise. A wonderful monk I know has written and provided links to good explanations of what some Buddhists do this time of year. The most important thing for me in reading, and in all these years of practising in our tradition is to try not to cut off, to not try to separate from the world that we live in, to not want to sleep through the entire season and not go overboard with the noise too.


This little guy was a gift from a patient who died several years ago now. This snowman is our “greeter” when people come over. He cracks me up. Every year he gets a bit more lopsided and can I ever identify with that! A perfect way to brighten things up.

DSCN0978So we will exchange gifts and light up a little plastic tree. Grant drapes our living room in garlands and shiny hearts, and we keep the ribbons away from the cat who will eat them. On Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we will share food with friends, call our families and tell them we love them. That’s an OK way to celebrate the light coming back isn’t it?

What to do with a Shawl?

The Pi Shawl is done! 88 repeats of a 14 row edging, over and over, and over again when I messed up each time I lost focus. A very basic, straightforward edging to a very straight forward and satisfying knit. Now what to use this thing for? Typically there is a time period when I am very attached to the finished object and feel a bit of a tug at the thought of letting it go. This happens even when the thing is clearly destined for a particular person as a gift, and even when it is not something I would use. Despite all the myriad projects I work on I have a streak of the puritan in me, in that I do want the created item to be used, not just sit about. No hoarders here! ¬†The little twinge remains for a bit though, and I suspect it is a remnant of that little bit of myself that gets put into these things. “Look, there is some of the first hand spun merino that came out consistent and balanced after all that frustration, there is that pretty stuff discovered on a great road trip”. Typically, if a finished object doesn’t have an immediate recipient, it goes into a stash, to sit and marinate. And inevitably as it marinates there, radiating woolly colour and warmth, the ideal person or situation wanders by and the object goes to its best place. Without that twinge too, I might add – that little bit of “grabbiness” fades, thankfully. Either I end up enamoured of something else, like a magpie drawn to shiny bits, or the satisfaction of finding the right place lets the twinge fade away on its own! Good thing too, there are lots of jokes made in the fibre world about stashes that take over the house. Yikes. So, what to do with the shawl…

DSCN0967Getting out of the car to go for a walk at Steveston the other day I had the good luck to see an entire flock of snow geese murmuring and feeding on the grass. They weren’t too perturbed by all the people, though the dogs made them rise up honking indignantly a couple of times. Lots of walkers just stopped to watch for a while – why does bird watching, or any animal observation watching engage us the way it does? A reminder of a larger connection is my thought.


DSCN0962Christmas Candle? (Heron on pylon actually)