RETREAT RECORD

OCTOBER 2008, TY'R GAWEN, WALES

 

The 12th gathering of Redthread began under swirling mist and ended in the rain-washed brilliance of a " Pure Land in the West".

holding up the clouds
a high pressure ridge
clear blue sky

Sadly, at the last moment, the two Kims were unable to come, so we were eight - ably led as ever by Ken and fed by George who provided our excellent cuisine - this time with an oriental flavour, enjoyed by Stuart, Bill, Helen, Jean, Jane and her guest, David Hawkins, a young writer staying at Ty'r Gawen and helping out in the garden.

the old building
silence
has a voice

Morning meditation was adorned by the ticking of the clock and the cat's loud purring. Then Helen introduced a thoughtful workshop on the use of "synaesthesia"( the mixing of the senses) in haiku writing. This was followed by Ken's talk on "disjunction"( the gap and the swerve) and its potential for the deepening of spiritual content.

grandfather clock
that slight stagger
between his tick and tock

For a wet afternoon a visit to the art gallery in Machynlleth kept us dry and interested while the CAT café and the pub next door offered warmth and nourishment.

through driving rain the flare of taxi tail lights

In the evening we listened to Stuart's first Haibun and Ken's two hundred and fortieth, while flames flickered and rain beat on the window panes

first fire
the tongs
detached from the spider's web

Sunday morning... and a lengthy discussion over breakfast on what to do with another wet day

long hours before dawn
the short ones
that follow it

Ken suggested we celebrate harvest in Pennal village church, where Buddha, Shiva and the Jewish Minorah share space with the Christian saints. Everyone else opted for inspiration from the great outdoors and it was an auspicious morning - all the clouds suddenly rolled away leaving a glowing landscape under clear blue skies. Most people went to the beach.

a great solemn wave
breaking
to exuberant froth

A flush of haiku about sea birds, waves, stones and shells were soon appearing on the dining room walls, with a bit of local history and a whiff of scandal from Ken to complement the 'shasei' of the sea shore.

sharing her prayer book
and Chanel No 5
it makes me wonder.

Meanwhile Bill had been wandering lonely as a cloud in various places without any waterproof clothing and taking care of the poultry.

quiet day
the dragon and jack
hang limp together

George's fascinating introduction to the structures of traditional Chinese poetry in various translations was accompanied by birdsong and the sound of running water in a sun-drenched garden. We were further inspired by readings from David Hinton's 'Mountain Home - the wilderness poetry of ancient China', and even began to perceive the true meaning of 'tzu-jan'.
 
"The vision of 'tzu-jan' recognizes earth to be a boundless generative organism, and this vision gives rise to a very different experience of the world. Rather than the metaphysics of time and space, it knows the world as an all-encompassing present, a constant burgeoning forth that includes everything we think of as past and future...the awesome sense of the sacred in this generative world:"... yes.
 
As usual, after dinner on Sunday, we reviewed the 'writing on the wall', kindly led by George. Perhaps we were too tired after so much good food and fresh air, but it seemed there were too many words to deal with and useful responses were lacking - maybe a limited space would tighten things up a bit.

crossing out words
I meet the cat's straight stare
and begin again

Finally, a conversation about recent perceptions of Redthread as a group led to a decision to re-state its aims in 'The Brief', which Ken bravely volunteered to do.

if only, if only...
the light that is under the skin
of a cucumber

Jane Whittle 2008


 

 
HAIKU chosen from the wall
 
KEN JONES
Hanging on each side of the fireplace
Lord and Lady Londonderry
with nothing more to say
Worn shoes
their empty eyes
and trailing laces
from one kissing gate
deep in nettles
to the next
National Hero
his upright block of stone
his withered flowers
grandfather clock
that slight stagger
between the tick and tock
quiet day
the dragon and the jack
hang limp together

 
GEORGE MARSH
if only, if only...
the light that is under the skin
of a cucumber
the great solemn wave
breaking
to exuberant froth

 
JEAN NAPIER
from tidal debris
a Tibetan shrine
is born
oyster catcher fly-past
a sunlight flash
on white feathers
holding up the clouds
a high pressure ridge
clear blue sky

 
STUART QUINE
through driving rain the flare of taxi tail lights
gone to seed in the coupling yard grey heads of willowherb
chanting the nembutsu clouds strung along the western horizon
trying to get the whole shore into my camera

 
HELEN ROBINSON
the long hours before dawn
the short ones
that follow it
the old building
silence
has a voice
buzzard circles
quartering the wood
a flurry of rain
first fire
the tongs
detached from spider's web
stones upon stones
under crashing waves
all the tiny mussel shells
tidewrack
of kelp and crab shells
the salt scent of decay
cast upon the tide
a small dogfish
its shark's teeth

 
JANE WHITTLE
under each wave
green
collapses into light
crossing out words
I meet the cat's straight stare
and begin again

 
BILL WYATT
Joshu's Mu
the dog chasing
his tailess tail

 

All photographs are © copyright Jean Napier to whom we offer thanks for permission to reprint.
 

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