A Walking Contemplation

with Matthew Coleman

The following is a gift I received in my inbox a few weeks ago from a dear friend whom I also consider a teacher. Among other communications, we are haiku pen pals, however Matthew is mostly penning, and I am mostly palling and loving the moments he beholds and expresses so beautifully. I asked if I could share his contemplation with you, and he graciously said yes.

Matthew and his wife Phyllis, who live in the Pacific Northwest, are wise elders in our community. Students and teachers of Mahayana Buddhism, their lives are an expression of that love and compassion.

I think you know I rarely leave the island these days. It's just that it takes so long just to live day to day now. I can't think of a better place to slow down. Now instead of walking through the forest to get some exercise I go slow on my crutches. It's really more of a contemplation than a walk. Day by day watching the sword ferns unfurl, blossoms turn into berries, mushroom feeding on a felled mighty Douglas Fir. Feeling the subtle energy of this forest life, the life underfoot, seeing the snake in the mouth of the owl as it flies by, hearing the crow in the distance. The mighty old growth trees racing towards the sun only to reach their limits and falling back down to that from which they came. What is the primal essence of this life? Can I know it? I know I can. To slow to such an extent that the space between one moment and the next stretches outward to infinity in empty radiance. Then pause and maybe a cup of tea or two. --Matthew Coleman