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Lions Roar : January 2003
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 37 were here and we experienced we were here. I could feel Roshi’s presence. I thought he had died. No one had died. And in a blink of an eye none of us were here, only spring would move to summer, if we were very lucky and no one blew up the world. But maybe there were other summers and winters out there in other universes. Nothing like a Minnesota winter, of course—that sin- gle solid thought I probably would die clinging to, like a life preserver, the one true thing I’d met after all my seeking. After the last student left, I bent to put on my shoes. I was tired of being pigeonholed as a writer. Limited to one thing. Not Zen separate from hamburgers, not writing divided from breath. Only the foot placed down on this one earth. If we can sit in a café breathing, we can breathe through hearing our father’s last breath, the slow crack of pain as we realize he’s crossing over forever. Good-bye, we say. Good-bye. Good-bye. Toenails and skin. Memory halted in our lungs: his foot, ankle, wrist. When a bomb is dropped it falls through history. No one act, no single life. No disconnected occur- rence. I am sipping a root beer in another café and the world spins and you pick up a pen, speak and save another life: this time your own. That night at three a.m ., one of those mighty midwestern thunder- storms suddenly broke the dark early sky in an electric yellow. I gazed out the cold glass pane. Either in my head or outside of it—where do thoughts come from?—three words resounded: The Great Spring. The Great Spring. Together my students and I had wit- nessed the tip of the moment that green longed for itself again. I realized in all these years, Roshi had never been outside of me. ♦ NATALIE GOLDBERG is the author ofWritingDown the Bones, Wild Mind, Long Quiet Highway and Thunder and Lightning. Her most recent book is a collection of poems and paintings, Top Of My Lungs, published by Overlook Press. She has been a Zen practitioner for the last 25 years. Crossing the Yellow River.