A timely holiday

One hard to escape aspect of fostering a Dhamma Center on 70 acres of land is that there is always lots to do. Always and lots. Further, there is a large learning curve — albeit fun, challenging, creative — with many of those things, probably most of them: building, rejuvenating ecosystems, gardening, training horses, repairs & maintenance, coping with the weather, keeping books, non-profit governance, local politics, and much more.

Not that we’re thinking of trading this in for another life. However, pile on the necessity of Jo holding an outside job and, this year, my illness (just into it’s 6th month), and being perpetually busy, or worse, happens easily. Serious illness such as chronic fatigue and cancer can be real Tricksters in scrambling the established order — not necessarily wholesome in all respects — of ones lives. While not particularly grateful for coming down with a lymphoma, I am grateful for the lessons it has fostered.

Such is the background for Jo & I taking a much needed vacation yesterday. Though not even a full day (what with some necessary chores in the morning, a car breakdown, and my energy having limits) it was very much what we needed. While we took time to talk over some important Dhamma and life issues, we especially enjoyed being quiet and listening to wind, frogs, bugs, birds, squirrels. We hope to have the mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion to do this monthly. Of course, we and visitors at LP will do well to take enough time to listen each day … but we so easily forget when our lives get busy.

We choose Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, which is less than an hour away, for this holiday. We were blessed with a warm, sunny day; plus much peace and quiet.

Nestled in central Wisconsin is a landscape that was epitomized by early homesteaders as the Great Wisconsin Swamp. A mosaic habitat of sedge meadow, savanna, and pine-oak forest established in 1939 the area is an island of refuge — home to ringed boghaunter dragonflies, whooping cranes, trumpeter swans, wolves, Karner blue butterflies, badgers, and red-headed woodpeckers. Each species and habitat is monitored and maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure overall vigor within the 44,000-acre ecosystem.

For beautiful waterfowl pictures

Having gotten used to the ridges and coulees of the driftless, the flatness of the refuge and surrounding state lands was impressive. Water is a great leveler, something to keep in mind as our species continues to experiment irresponsibly with climate change.

On one of your visits to LP, we highly recommend you visit Necedah as well.

A final thought: Jewels like Necedah are scattered throughout this country. Easily overlooked compared with the Grand Canyons and Yellowstones, they are accessible refuges for ordinary folks, while also fulfilling a necessary ecological role. Given the current obsession with deficit reduction and the immorality of mainstream politics (few of the politicos act like they care about the future of their grandchildren), will places like Necedah continue to be funded? Or will they be turned over to the “free” market? And what of the people who work at Necedah and similar places, shall they move to China as that country develops?

Gratitude has two aspects in Pali and Thai: Kataññu recognizes the gifts and blessings that have come ones way, personally, communally, and socially. Katavedi responds wholeheartedly to that recognition. In other words, gratitude encompasses understanding, emotion, and action.

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