Join us for one of our services at the Zendo: 18005 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon, WA 98070, (previously Island Funeral Services.) Feel free to come 10 minutes early for instruction, or just jump right in.

  • Sunday Service: 10:00am-12pm
    Early Sunday Sit: 8:30-9:30am
  • Monday – Friday: 6:30-7:30am
  • Monday Evening: 7:00-8:45pm
  • Wednesday Evening: 7:00-8:30pm

Up in the Clouds

Up in the Clouds

There have been several times when I’ve limped up to Orcas Island in the hopes that It might fix things.

What things these are I won’t get into-I’m sure we all have things that we hope getting into a plane or a boat or a car fixes. That kind of stuff.

Maybe it’s not the most Zen way to approach things-to put our trust in another land instead of our own selves, our own inner resources, to ignite healing.

Ah well. Lately my inner resources-my inner tinder boxes of healing-have been feeling pretty tapped out.

This time I’m limping my droopy self up to Orcas Island as a person without a father. Dad passed away a month and a half ago, and ever since then I’ve been ok but not really. I’ve been irritable and cranky. When called upon to socialize with other people, my bones hurt.

I’ve needed frequent naps. I’ve been sick with one illness and ailment after another. My latest one is a bad cold, on the 4th of July no less. I watched the fireworks through the thick layer of not caring that comes with a heavy dose of antihistamines. I’m hoping Orcas Island can fix it.

In a metaphor so thick, even through my grief-stricken and antihistamine-filled head I get it, we fly up to Orcas in a pea soup fog of cloud. I’ve told my son-we fly so low in the little plane, you’ll be able to see what’s there. You’ll be able to see what’s coming. Yeah, but what about when you don’t? What about when you can’t?

I am not yet as a human being, instrument rated, as a pilot would say. I’m clear to fly in clear weather, when I can clearly see all that’s around me. And you know what? For me that’s pretty damn good.

But I’m not yet strong enough to trust my own inner instrumentation-to just trust that, even in this fog, the compass of my life is going to carry me somewhere where I’ll find the inner resources to keep going.

I think this is part of what the Zen journey is about: training up that kind of on board instrumentation; the kind that trusts that an inner land of plenty is there even when we can’t see it; even when we can’t imagine what it might be like. And training up the trust that we, on our own, can get there. With just a pennkife and a flashlight, if necessary.

I don’t currently possess that type of inner strength; that inner Zen machismo. But for now, in the meantime, I’ve got my Zen practice, such as it is, and I’ve got Orcas Island.

It might be a shortcut, to need see a representation of the land of inner plenty as manifested by an outer realm of plenty. But you know what? Right now I’ll take it.

If you’re in the cloud right now-my condolences. I was there just a second ago and I’m sure I’ll be back, double quick.

But I can also assure you that, based on my experience just now, there can in fact be a land of plenty not in the cloud where you can touch down and feel healed again, even if you doubt that’s possible, in your current state of destitution.

You can come down out of the cloud, and that restaurant that was closed for a long time that you loved? Yeah it’s open again. And you sit down to eat, and everything tastes just right.

In this land, there are hollyhocks exploding like fireworks right up white picket fences. And you don’t just half-see them through a fog of not caring-you actually see them.

And in this land, there’s a troubadour named Pedro singing his heart out; singing songs you love but you haven’t heard in forever. And you wonder what that sound is that you’re hearing in the background. And you realize it’s you, singing right along.

Elizabeth Fitterer
July 2019