Old sun, ancient trees
Old path, inviting shade
Under cool embrace, I pace.
We didn't always meditate and work either. We had free time too, in the evenings and on weekends. I took frequent evening walks in the corn fields just outside the temple grounds. Some Sundays I cycled to the nearby small town of Labastide-Saint-Georges for espresso and the weekend farmer's market. Once, the monks took the van to the Pyrenees mountains for a hike and a clean-up of a mountain retreat hut that the monastery owns there. It's strange seeing the monks, in burgundy 'skirts' (it's their traditional monk dressing) and hiking boots against an European mountain range background. But no one batted an eyelid. It's interesting to see how the local French natives took to them. Excursions like that, were the highlight of my stay there.
Mornings were my other daily highlight. We woke at 5am everyday to meditate and chant. Imagine dim blue light coming through a tiny window. Not a sound, in this rural part of Toulouse. Then, a gong. Someone was in charge of the bell to wake us up, and he went around the rooms with it. The deep, low gong of the bell, reverberated deep into my core, waking me up instantly.
What a way to wake up. No wonder they called enlightenment, waking up.
Recollecting Tibet in Toulouse, as a way to work my way through wandergrief from returning home after a transformative 3-week stay in Kyoto.