September 22, 2019

Between the Zen Monastery and the Shooting Range

This cabin in the mountains
is exactly halfway
between the Zen monastery
and the shooting range.

Sometimes I hear
the echoing pop
of a gun going off,
and sometimes I hear
the resounding
silence of meditation.

Do the monks use
those tiny explosions
as calls to awareness,
I wonder? Do they ever
drop by the range?

After all, they are hunters
of mindfulness, and the hunters
are monks of survival.

And the rest of us
are a little of both,
building walls around
our quiet privilege, holding
our weapons tight.

It’s spring again
and in front of the cabin
lavender reaches
for the sky, waiting
to unfold its little
purple sail.

The monks say,
when you find yourself
holding on tight, that’s
how you know
it’s time to open.

Alicia Jo Rabins is a writer, musician and Torah teacher who lives in Portland, Ore.