photo by Sean M. Madden, © 2011
This is what Mindfully Decadent Monday looks like, less one of our fellow travellers who had to, well, visit the outlying bushes at the time this photo was taken. What a bunch of layabouts, you say? Hey, someone's got to do it. And why not do it in the Hamsey churchyard, with the blessing of the good Rev. Derek Bastide himself?
We met Behind the Blue Door, introduced ourselves to one another, and shortly thereafter headed out into the wilds of Lewes High Street, turned left up Pope's Passage, walked along Castle Ditch Lane and down St. John's Terrace to the Pells, and met up with the riverside footpath just where Willey's Bridge spans the Ouse.
And this on the most gloriously beautiful of days! What a way to spend a Monday ...
We read from Deng Ming-Dao's Everyday Tao, sitting in a circle alongside the river, all the while doing our best to avoid any Mr Toads, stoats and weasels who might not have our best interests at heart. Though we did welcome an incredibly cute black and white spaniel into our midst, until she put her nose into my lunch bag.
The simple act of reading (and rereading) a couple of pages from Deng's beautifully written book, specifically, the 'Sun' and 'Water' entries, led to a long, fruitful discussion on what it means to emulate water as a way to move towards wisdom.
We continued meandering slowly upstream, talked of the Lewes flood of 2000 — a poignant reminder of the power of water — spied a cluster of horsetail (Equisetum arvense), meant to be 300 million years old, and stopped to peer over the bridge which leads to Hamsey Church, officially called St. Peter's.
We picnicked in the churchyard, considered such profound questions as whether Jaffa cakes are, in fact, cakes or biscuits. And we basked in the sunshine, learned of the miraculous work of the leaf-cutting bee, and forged personal connections via such topics of conversation as the Cookham artist, Stanley Spencer.
Throughout, we wrote and shared our writing, and observations, with one another. And we began to reveal who we really are beneath the surface. This is where the magic comes in, where authenticity arises, as well as a certain presence, a collective spirit, which supports us in our shared endeavor.
In all, we spent six hours together, an additional hour tacked on to the planned 10 am to 3 pm outting so as to fit in a final reading, on metaphor, from Everyday Tao, and for an afternoon poetry writing and sharing session suggested by a long-time student who comes to us from the High Weald heights of Crowborough.
The folk who joined us have already asked when we'll do it again, so if you'd like to be kept apprised of this and other future workshop and course offerings, the best way to do so is to sign up to receive MLG Updates via email. I'll be announcing our next outdoor workshop adventure soon ...