Revival of Metta's tent

- through Francois Leclercq

Published on

Welcome, dear readers, to another month of taking put out of the meditation cushion and into the world.

Last month's article, "Sowing the seeds of Mettafound me invoking the local Mother Earth Goddess to help a regenerative farm in the Cotswolds where I still volunteer. This month, I took over for my fellow producers (regular readers might remember “Metta Turns the Kettle On,” an article from a few years ago about serving my fellow waiters during the “silly season” – how the Christmas period is also known behind closed kitchen doors in the hotel industry).

Feeding their organic produce the best possible nutrients in terms of compost and water and daily attention, vegetable growers can easily burn themselves out trying to feed others. Especially during the height of the summer growing season, when crops such as tomatoes, beans, zucchini and cucumbers ripen so quickly that they must be harvested daily before they become too sour or tough or big or bitter to eat. !

When our head cultivator unexpectedly excused himself to take a phone call from his doctor, I then gently probed if all was well. She smiled bravely and explained that she was referred for a colonoscopy. The paradox of her cultivation of such nutritious products in the face of a potentially life-altering digestive diagnosis was not lost on me, and I offered my support as needed.

A few days later she phoned me after hours to accept this offer as the local hospital had a last minute appointment the next day and recommended that someone pick her up and stay with her for the sedatives wear off.

And so, rather than feeding and watering and harvesting our crops that day, I instead took care of our head cultivator. Fortunately, the procedure went as smoothly as possible and confirmed that instead of a life-threatening diagnosis, she was suffering from an illness that could be managed with diet. She dove straight into bed, and I could tell from the state of the kitchen that she and her roommate — also a farmer who had recently lost a parent to suicide — hadn't spent much time there in the last few years. last weeks.

It was clearly time to feed the nannies.

I rolled up my sleeves, washed all the dishes and made a pot of homemade vegetable soup with all the lovely produce from their two respective gardens that were languishing in the fridge.

Fresh beans, carrots, red beets, onions, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, a handful of red lentils, vegetable stock, fresh herbs and lots of put to simmer for the afternoon. During this time, I restored the kitchen to a welcoming space for the recovering patient when she emerged between naps and for her roommate when she returned from work.

Back at the farm the next day, the rest of the team were excitedly discussing the schedule of events for the National Earth Skills Show we were to attend this weekend. It was heartwarming to watch everyone come up with what others might need: someone with a car offered to Sherpa the luggage of a parent taking their two young children on the train, someone else offered me a tent as they knew I had no camping gear with me, someone else in their residential vehicle offered the use of their kitchen to anyone who wanted to cook a hot meal during weekends, and so on.

The drive, carpooling with teammates who had never been there before, crackled with excitement and lively discussions about the various lectures, tours and demonstrations we were hoping to attend over the next three days.

As we pitched our tents, someone shouted my name and I looked up to see one of my friends from a previous placement leap up to greet me. It was one of many bittersweet meetings over the weekend with vulnerable volunteers from former placements and it became apparent that they were still exaggerating their recreational drug use under the energy vampire spell.

Although I was really happy to see them all, feeling the pain and manipulation they always denied was reminiscent of an elephant walking through the tents all around us looking for its master box and his circus tent.

When unfolding my borrowed tent, I discovered that it was missing its pegs. Before I even had time to worry before the expected thunderstorms, a teammate remembered an ultralight tent he had stowed in his car for solo expeditions. It was by far the smallest and lightest tent of the hundreds sprouting around us: a walking stick served as the central pole and its flysheet was translucent – ​​rather than dark green, blue or brown. like most others – much like our growers' polytunnels. .

First on everyone's itinerary was a tour of the festival's host farm, given by none other than our head producer's former mentor. She had done her two-year apprenticeship on this site, and it tickled me to meet the person who had taught our head winemaker what she was teaching me now this summer!

Like kids dropped into a candy store, our head cultivator (already happily recovered) and I flew from event tent to event tent hoping to sample every lecture and demo offered. . And so we stumbled upon the most interesting conversation of the weekend, given his recent health scare: a panel on lasting death.

Four panelists each shared how they applied their ecological concerns to an unpopular topic: one wore felted wool shrouds, another weaved willow coffins, one was a birth and transitional doula, and the last was a butcher. ethics that only killed game that it hunted itself.

As each explained their unexpected journeys as interrupters in the death and death industry, the hundred or so attendees listening began to open up in depth about how death had interrupted their lives with early, recent or unexpected bereavement as a result of illness, accident or suicide.

An older woman in the audience then lightened the mood by reminding the willow coffin maker of the bicycle baskets she used to weave as a child in preparation for her future career. I laughed to myself remembering Elliott's attempts to deliver ET "home" on his bike! And another participant spoke about the new emerging trend of “recomposing”, ie the composting of human bodies instead of burning them, burying them or donating organs. The audience, consisting mainly of organic farmers and producers, laughed at the idea that this concept constantly interrupts traditional agriculture.


Nurses feeding to the end, indeed.

Even more interesting for that put meditating was that the willow coffin weaver and doula would hold immersion sessions the next day, in which individuals could set aside half an hour in a willow coffin to imagine their death, much like a zero-digging option of the maranasati meditation practice.

When I tried to register, I found that the sessions were already full. However, very early the next morning, I experienced my own cocooned immersion in the dawn sunlight as I discovered the real magic of the translucency of my little ultralight tent. It inspired me to continue nurturing the nurturers in another way with an early morning walk and the blessing of the hushed sea of ​​tents and manned vehicles.

Only the festival cleaners were already up, refreshing the compost toilets and picking up litter while I walked around generating put for the gathering of the days to come.

Paradoxically, the timeless quality of waking up to the sun at 5 a.m. for this solo expedition was the most connected I felt for all of those gathered this weekend.

While the last year and a half of volunteering on organic farms had taught me many practical skills to support my fellow growers, silently blessing their efforts that time in the morning felt more necessary and potentially fruitful, much like making a pot of soup. vegetables for our head producer earlier this week.

The heavens opened soon after and it rained non-stop all day and night. I spent most of that time undercover listening to a flurry of new and old ideas. . . everything from saving seeds to maintaining food sovereignty to all the practical uses of hemp as a building material and textile, to initiatives connecting new immigrants to the UK with available gardening space so they can continue to grow produce from their home country, to all the weird and wonderful ways to grow edible mushrooms to enrich our gut microbiomes, to one woman's new ways of preserving, pickling and fermenting who had unexpectedly found herself without a fridge during lockdown and got creative as she prepared for a whole new career.

The most unexpected plot twist, however, was yet to come.

Amid all these bittersweet reunions with vulnerable volunteers from previous placements, the most closed of them unexpectedly sat down with me on a haystack to watch over the festivities unfolding around us. . . and started talking about writing. They confessed that they wanted to write their memoirs that would tell the truth about their lives, come what may. It took all my composure not to jump to my feet and shout "Hallelujah" and "Praise be" and "Can I have a witness?" in true tent revival style.

Instead, as a former writing workshop facilitator, I kindly offered to help nurture that surprise seed that was sprouting with book suggestions and writing exercises and encouragement to nurture and water and nurture the truth emerging from the compost of their life story.

And so, dear readers, in these turbulent times, please do all you can to feed and water yourself and tend to those areas of your own life that currently feel undernourished or ready for the compost heap. You never know which new chapter to generate put because your own hunger holes might just end up feeding others.

Or for put-morphose “The Power of Two” by the Indigo Girls, a song about camping and feeding each other no matter what:

Now the parking lot is empty
Everybody's gone somewhere
I pick you up and in the trunk I packed
A cooler and a suitcase two days

'Cause there's a place we like to drive
Exit in the country
Five miles from the city limit, we sing and your
The hand is on my knee

'Cause we're fine
We are well
Baby I'I'm here to stop your crying
Get all the ghosts out of your head
I'm stronger than the monster under your bed

Smarter than the tricks played on your heart
I'will watch them together and then we'I will take them apart

Add up the total of a love that's true
Multiply life by the power of

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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