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Sunday, July 7, 2024

I Am A Monk


I Am A Monk
(for my children who are confounded by their father)

Be still with me....you know where I am...keep breathing...”--Imogen Heap

I am a monk
without chanting sutras,
without simple robes,
or affectatious langot.
There is no exact word
to describe the faith
I practice. Some are close.
Ranjung sangay?
The self-enlightened?
Pratyekabuddha?
The path of self-enlightenment?
I would be a poor choice
for such great words.
My study wat
is an old trailer⁰
where I cannot kneel,
where there are no devotees
to help with my simple needs.
There are no attachments
or so I think
as I examine everything within
or attempt to suspend the world.
Unlike a real monk
I cannot walk my city with a bowl;
I need and sometimes carry money.
In this obsessed society
it is not begging to accept money
since cooked rice and vegetables
rarely come or survive in the mail.
Those who give to me
practice their faith in generosity
and reveal truth in charity.
For the few who serve me
I give what I simply can:
a poem,
a caring ear,
a kind word,
my time,
confused attempts at love,
a smile.
I wasn't always on this path.
It would be impossible
to explain my life to others:
the silence of selflessness,
the study of what's inside,
the walk inside a cage.
I fail every day to match ideals
of monks around the world.
I do aspire to a higher way;
to answers that complete me.
I claim no awareness or
enlightenment.
Normal clothing will cover me.
It's not important for others
to recognize me by my exterior.
Many will judge me
with or without robes
and the trappings of a religious.
As a teen,
I once told my mother
I wanted to live in a monastery;
the undiscovered truth I later found
was to get away from her.
Not being Catholic, Thai Buddhist,
our own Congregational Christianity,
some other religious group
with monasteries, I never
found pantheists who share
in communities. Some may exist.
My back on a lawn
in the starlit dark of night
is a way for me
to partially glimpse gODD.
I have achieved the basic
requirements of such a life
without the company of
other monks.
I contemplate and pray.
I read lessons that come
or are presented before me.
I learn from everything
what it is to live striving
for an ideal I'll never achieve.
My monk's name
was given to me by my parents
and those who came before me.
Out of respect for their paths,
right or wrong,
I now keep the name
in reverence for their sacrifices
that put me here,
unable to walk the road
or to visit those who need me
in my advanced years.
My service is simple
without desires for fame or wealth.
What I create is free.
What I take comes freely to me.
I spent much of my previous life
failing at everything I touched.
I was greedy, egotistic, glutinous,
foolish, caddish, and more.
I am accepting now
that I've found where I belong.
I am alone;
with or without
friends and family,
sitting with my experiences.
While I listen for a priest
ringing a bell,
here it becomes birdsong,
squirrel chatter,
wind rippling the metal roof,
the frozen noises
of the siding that complains,
falling icicles, thunder, rain,
voices in a dream or on radio,
music of every student,
even the professional ones.
All sounds come from gODD
in a vast spectrum of the visible
and invisible.
Sometimes a person becomes
what they once thought they
wanted to be and never expected.
I am a monk.

Barry G. Wick



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