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baking bread (day 2)

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This hernia is killing me. Well, not killing but hurting. I’m waiting for a date with the surgeon’s knife and nothing is critical. I spent the day on my feet, mostly in the kitchen baking bread and generally assisting wherever needed. To be a monastery cook (tenzo in Japanese) is a routine assignment — each novice priest has to do it for one or two years during their seven years of training. Some are naturals at it, others aren’t and have to work extra hard. One thing that fell by the wayside over time was bread baking. Eight rosemary-flavoured loaves graced last night’s dinner table and a bucket of sourdough starter has taken up residence in the pantry.

Baking bread, along with chopping onions (a standard on a cook’s To Do list), peeling beets, washing pots and pans, sweeping the kitchen floor — those were some of my duties today. I’m thoroughly happy in a way only good work can make me. I’m tired (with an acheing abdomen) and at ease. Off to the shower, then to the meditation hall for two hours of sitting. What a life!


8 responses »

  1. Please be careful with that hernia. One of my grandmothers died of a strangulated hernia back in 1943. My dad has had successful surgery twice for them – they are painful! Sending healing thoughts your way.

    Do the priests make wheat-free bread for any with allergies to wheat?

    Been lurking around your blog since Jeff Stroud recommended it to me. I find the thoughts you express comforting as I’m living with my father’s slow and painful decline. Thank you for this wonderful blog!

    • dear barbara, thank you for your healing kindness. i was born in the year of your grandmother’s death. not to worry: met with the surgeon last Friday and there’s no urgency. but i must be more care-ful about physical acitivities. we don’t bake wheatfree but do look after people with food allergies and sensitivities. just this weekend a person couldn’t eat anything from the nightshade family. may you be happy.

  2. 72 Labors were necessary in bringing us this food
    we should know how this comes to us

    Let us consider if your virtue and practice deserve this food
    we eat to be able to serve
    we nourish ourselves to be of service to others
    and to pass on in some form whatever we have received…

    loving one another as we have been loved…

    the joyful monk rings the dinner bell…

    • “… the first bite is to end all evil, the second is to cultivate all good, the third is to free all beings — may we all realize the Buddha way.” (from our meal chant).

  3. Please take care of yourself, and I hope you feel better soon!

    • thank you, dear sunim. i’m at ease being back at the monastery, surrounded by kind companions and the rich demands of pactice. daishin

  4. Safely home made the 7PM sailing. Keep well,
    deep bow ella

    • [ella travelled back from the monastery to victoria, bc. where she works in critical care.] glad to hear you’re well and safe, ella. after sleeping for 3 hours this afternoon (sleep deprivation being a feature of monastic life), we had a Ryushin’s birthday cake in three versions (to accommodate aversions and allergies), saw Charley Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” (a delight), and i had 2 precious hours in the library, and now (20 past midnight), time to write tomorrow’s post. Monday’s a day off — such luxury. peter daishin


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