If Aristophanes were suddenly to arrive here, he would no doubt pause, but with the eye he had, would soon discover such a treasure trove of material, he could produce comedies to last several lifetimes.
The problem would be in finding the right audience, for here we have little taste and patience for the sort of comedy at which he was so adept, and wit in language has long been forgotten in our blunt, in your face world of entertainment, and his natural audience in ancient Greece would never imagine a world so badly screwed up that even Kubrick would be hard pressed to bring Dr. Strangelove into the present.
He arrived today although none saw him coming. He had been here before, been quickly ignored, despite his pleas and prayers, they twisted his words to suit their venal desires, his message forever lost in translation. They were not ready, and in their hate fueled world, they might never be.
She doesn’t arrive. We knew she likely would not arrive. We are not certain why she has chosen not to arrive. She is good at arrivals. She is good at not making arrivals. If she said why she didn’t arrive we would accept that reason. We would also question that reason. She is good at giving reasons. She is good at giving reasons that are not real reasons. So we wait, for perhaps one day she will arrive.
They arrive after a long flight from tyranny, from oppression from the nightmare of endless fear, from hunger, from faith denied, from the bottomless depths of poverty, scarred memories etched in their souls, hoping for an ending as much as wishing for a new beginning. They have been here, a new generation, raised on the stories, versed in the painful history, still residual anger born of love for those who fled, without the pain of experience, who can forget when it is others who now wish only to arrive to the freedom they have known since childhood
He left and we never saw the departure coming. We knew he would leave sooner or later, but not now. We had planned on his visit. We knew he meant he was coming. We knew he might just show up. He traveled on snap decisions. It might be here, it might be Paris or Italy. But there was always the long slow coffee hour with tales of his life as we listened intently. Now he is gone, and as we drink our coffee we tell tales of him and mourn his death.
It is coming, a little over a week now and it will arrive, always too soon, never ready despite knowing its precise arrival day and time.
We will be ready, but only after a scramble, for that is how it must be, how it has always been.
And again this year we will be thankful, as all claim on this day, but why do so many forget the giving part of things, giving to those without, to those within who lack, to those who only want to come within to escape a without we dare not imagine for the nightmares and terror we would suddenly have to feel.
When you come into this town we know you are coming, when you enter this room we know you will arrive. It is only when we cannot discern your presence that your spirit has truly arrived. Contemplate this over a bowl of rice shared with mountain and wind.
A reflection on Case 18 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
A single snowy egret sits on the lowest branch of a long barren tree, where hours from now a thousand birds will arrive for still another evening and night.
He stares at me as I am mindfully vacuuming, watching carefully.
I pause and ask if by chance he is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck and peers around in all directions.
I repeat my question, and he lifts one wing, which I know to be his way of saying, “I, like you, am imbued with Buddha nature, and I with mother nature as well, and if you doubt me ask one of the countless Bodhisattvas who will arrive in hours to study the Dharma well into what will be a wet night.