Day 74

Smelling: tasty flavorful food being cooked in the kitchen next to the shrine room, instant coffee, that fresh and musty converted barn smell
Seeing: the sun rise, the sun get higher through the window of the shrine room
Tasting: a thick lasagna packed with vegetables, orange milk chocolate
Hearing: a bowl being rung, bird song, voices leading meditation
Feeling: very full, achy ankle, my breath causing my abdomen to rise and fall

I woke up happy and went straight downstairs to have some instant coffee. It’s such a nostalgic drink for me, with my mom having made instant café au lait and mochas for me in middle school. And it tasted great with a chunk of my Belgian waffle dipped in. It was light outside but the sun was still rising over the horizon so I went outside to watch it. The weather was clear and perfect. After it had risen a bit, I went inside and had more coffee and chatted with the other dormers. Some of them had just arrived from Galway.

We walked to the shrine room for the morning meditation, which went much better for both Laura and I than yesterday afternoon since we were feeling less tired. I tried something that I hadn’t done much before. Instead of trying to see through my eyes, I tried to direct my consciousness to different parts of my body. So my knees, my belly, my sternum. It was a way to literally get me out of my head.

Laura and I walked around the gardens for a bit before going to the youth retreat, “Dare to Care.” It was a sort of sequel to conference, by the committee for Empathy and Compassion, of the same name that was held earlier in the year in Oslo on a much larger scale. We watched recordings of the four speakers. I personally found some of what they said kind of insubstantial or irritating, but there were some fascinating stories as well. We also did group/partner exercises and discussions. In the past when I had been in gatherings like these, where they try to get us young people to reflect on lofty ideas in our own lives, it hasn’t really sailed. But this felt kinda successful.

Lunch was a vegetarian buffet with lots of veggies, and I had a great time chowing down on that after a rather small breakfast. I lay down on the carpet with the sun shining on my abdomen like a cat trying to let my full stomach digest. Then we finished the rest of the conference.

We took another little walk as the sun set and the moon rose. After settling into the common room with our books and guitars and laptops for about an hour, a few of the young adults offered to take us along with them to go for a pint in town but Laura and I declined. We decided to make dinner instead. There were actually plenty of leftovers for us to cook a meal with, and we ended up cooking a kind of chili with sweetcorn and butterbeans and making some penne to mix in with it. We read/wrote a little more, I sipped one more cup of tea, and we said goodnight.

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