Kendo’s Healing Message for November

It’s 13th November once again, which means another anniversary for Kendo Nagasaki, which is, of course, being celebrated with another Event at the Retreat.

Actually, this 13th November is the second anniversary of the orchard which Kendo had planted here at the Retreat to celebrate his half-century. Just as on that night, tonight, we’ll be back out there, with a candle burning at each of the orchard’s 50 trees, with Kendo performing his Aspiration/Affirmation Stick Burning Ceremony at a vigorous brazier – it should be quite a sight in the deep, dark Staffordshire November evening!

When the Anniversary Orchard was inaugurated, we were putting more energy into the Events here at the Retreat – at the time we couldn’t accommodate overnight guests, which we now can, and, as we had hoped, we’ve reached new people who come to us in order to escape the intensity and stresses of their lives, find peace, and consequently gain empowerment and inspiration.

What we couldn’t anticipate were the surprise developments of the last two years. Some things which we thought would fall into place became stuck, but others which seemed likely to be obstinate have actually unfolded most obligingly, and yet more situations have arisen out-of-the-blue.

As a part of the Retreat celebrates its own 2nd birthday, it seems fitting to reflect that what Kendo teaches here seems to apply to the Retreat itself too – collectively we have needed to be flexible like a willow branch as unexpected things have arisen, we have needed to let fixed ideas fall away to be replaced by patience as they unfolded at their own pace, and we’ve found ourselves needing to create space for the life of the Retreat itself to breathe.

Of course, none of the foregoing should be a surprise to any of us, as these are fundamental aspects of Kendo’s teachings, but it is with a wry smile that we appreciate that even the best intentions, pursued with good-natured vigour, still benefit from Kyu Shin Do: events themselves have reminded us to view them from a position of Zen stillness, and the Kyu Shin Do objectivity gives them space to evolve without changes feeling unexpected.

Consequently, Kendo’s healing message this November is to appreciate that many things beyond ourselves also benefit from Zen stillness and Kyu Shin Do objectivity – our work, our vocations, our homes, and even our hopes for the future. Kendo has always enjoined us to meditate so that we can be the best we can be for the benefit of all around us, but it may also be worth sparing a moment to think about how applying Zen Kyu Shin Do principles to everything we touch and interact with can help them too, and how we relate to them, and so discover how to make a positive difference to the bigger picture of life all around us.

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