This weekend just past I was out Vijayaloka, our retreat centre on the banks of the Georges River. It was supposed to be a work retreat but due to the rain it had been called off so I went out there with just a couple of our mitras and joined Ray who had already driven down halfway from Armidale by the time it was called off …..
We had a simple time together doing some meditation, some light dharma study but mostly just taking the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and deepen our friendship.
On Saturday we did some path clearing as the rain held off and then three of us decided to clamber down the steep path for a possible swim in the swollen river. I’d never seen it so full in all the years I’ve been swimming there – our usual entry spots were all submerged so we improvised and found an access spot. (it looked nothing like the benign photo of the river above – taken on a much different day).
We tested the current and it seemed okay. As you got out further into the middle it was definitely stronger. But buoyed by our assessment and the two foam noodles we were both sitting on we ventured out further and finally decided to float down with the current to some distant rocks. But as we got closer to the rocks the river narrowed and became more shallow and the current quickly built up momentum. In a very short space of time I realised I was in a spot and clawed onto the large rock I was about to sweep past. It was very touch and go but I managed to heave myself up and out of the water ….. I was now in a tricky and potentially dangerous situation. My friend had managed to get to the bank but I was marooned on a rock five metres from him, mid-stream and the water rushing past on both sides was a torrent.
We spent some time deciding how to deal with it and finally he found a long, stout stick and by positioning himself in the water and clinging to foliage was able to reach it far enough out for me to grasp it and drag myself against great force of water to the embankment.
It was one of those situations where something seemingly innocuous can become dark very quickly …..
I’ve been roundly scolded by Gina upon my return home and in retrospect it was probably an insane thing to do – launch oneself into floodwaters voluntarily ….. but …..
Just as all things can be a teaching for us as Buddhists it has certainly has been for me. It put me firmly in touch with the fragility and preciousness of life and the care and wisdom we need to exercise to guard and treasure this human life …..
Meditation this Week
Tuesday 6 – 7.30 pm Zoom and Live
Sunday 8 – 9 am Zoom and Live