Gleaning wisdom

I am writing this overlooking the gorge at Nakamura-san’s, the drop just below my feet is about 40 feet down to a small terrace, once planted with rice, but now fallow. We spent the morning picking small limes (sudachi) at two farms above Kamikatsu. They grow three kinds of citrus at Bondo, which is a certified organic farm, along with the tea that we have been drinking at dinner, awabancha. The citrus has thorns, huge spiders live in the grove, and finding the green limes amid the green leaves requires some focus. The second grove we picked at belonged to a neighbor, who has just moved back here from the city to help his elderly parents.

We gleaned the trees in the first grove, checking for what had been missed in the first picking. I thought of the number of times I had asked students what they had gleaned from a reading, without any real concept of how painstaking that is, or how much you might have to search to find a bit of fruit.

So many of the rules of life for contemplatives, drawing on Benedict’s early model, specify a time for physical work in addition to the work of contemplation, and many orders do agricultural work, or make bread or jam. The rhythm and pace of the work, and the discomfort of it — the sun is hot, the lime oils are rough on the skin, the thorns prick and the small scissors are sharp enough to cut unwary fingers — are an interesting comparison to the work of meditation. Which can have its own discomforts, as well as rhythm and pace.

Lunch was at a small organic shop, which has local produce, including rice. The rice harvest is in progress here, we can see the sheaves of rice tied up in the fields to dry. We left with some rice (though not the 5 kg bag I was really eyeing), and lots and lots of the awabancha.

After lunch the bus dropped us at the first bridge on the way to Nakamura’s and everyone who did not have a broken foot walked the remaining distance up the mountain (a short half hours walk, but all uphill). Now we are doing the next bit of our work on binding the journals, cutting out the covers and getting ready to stitch up the spines.

2 thoughts on “Gleaning wisdom

  1. I wonder how will the students view the meaning of "work" back in the USA when "work" has a different meaning in Japan? Ivonne (Paoli's Mom)

  2. That's a good question, and what is the difference between physical work and more mental work? I suspect, as in almost anything, it is all about the balance.

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