Taking Refuge

A Quail Sits at Kanzeon’s Feet

Hello! It’s been ages since I’ve written. So much has happened in the world! Everything is always changing. Nevertheless, it feels like it’s been going at warp speed since last February. I am still in partial retreat – not leaving home except to take care of essentials and to walk Bentley (our dog). There’s more time to practice. The sangha went virtual almost overnight. This was no small feat, given my underwhelming tech abilities; many people helped. The presence of Covid-19 is quite a tragic eye-opener. About 1,000 people per day are dying in America, and it’s getting worse. It’s a global health crisis. That, coupled with the pending elections has left much of America emotionally exhausted – and with it, sometimes the tempers rise, the moods constrict, the relationships suffer. I am very grateful to be able to stay home, and spend this time with Patrick and Bentley. Others are forced to put themselves at risk just so that they can work, eat, and have somewhere to live.

In the midst of all this, Patrick came to get me one afternoon, and led me outdoors to our statue of Kanzeon – a bodhisattva common to the Zen tradition – “she who hears the cries of the world”. There, huddled below was a quail, all fluffed up, and not looking very good at all. The image of a dying bird huddled at Kanzeon’s feet really opened my heart doors wide. This might sound fanciful; nevertheless I thought – this little bird has taken refuge. Left alone, she would likely be eaten by a hawk or die from the hot sun. She let me pick her up and hold her with no protest at all. We gave her a safe, protected place to die. Quail Hospice. She lived for about 5 hours. I cried, not so much from sadness. Instead it was more from a very deep sense of appreciation for taking refuge in the Three Jewels. What if we could all be as wise as this quail, who really showed me the beauty and mystery of refuge?

We’re all going to die. In fact, it’s amazing that we’re all alive in this moment. And so let’s remember that we have such blessings and good fortune, in good times and bad. We can always turn to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as our place of refuge. We have a safe place.

Thank you for your practice!



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