Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

Zen For The Blind

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Not sure if anyone else has experience this, but I’ve found that being blind has made it awkward in houses of worship. I’m not talking about the spiritual process in a personal sense. What I’m talking about is the logistics of the actual ceremony. It’s something I haven’t gotten used to, even with Ro at my side.

For instance, going up for the host at a Catholic Mass is nothing less than an effort in frustration due to narrow iles.

Catholic calastentics aside, even when I went to our local Zen center, although the monks were helpful and understanding of my disability, I still felt like I was being left out of the ceremony because I didn’t know when to bow or find the altar .I suppose as long as I keep at it and work to educate the clergy wherever we go, it will improve. I won’t feel like a fish out of water; well, I am a Pisces, so that’s quite appropriate.

This is, of course, just one perspective of one blind lady in one city in the huge world.

In the words of a 13th Centry Dogen:
“We study the self to forget the self. When we forget the self, we become intimate with All Things.”

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Little Girl With The White Dog

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Dear Little Girl with the little white dog;
I know you think your 3 lb baby on the retracting leash is very friendly. I heard you saying to Fluffy, “Look, there’s another dog, let’s go say hello.” When I heard the leash zing like a trout running a lure, I knew we were in trouble.
I stopped and prepared for the worst, taking Ro’s leash in my right hand. We were ready to do battle with the tiny gnashing, growling thing that is supposed to resemble a dog.

“Hello.” I say, correcting Ro as she puts her head down to say hello to the snapping, growling thing.
“Are you blind?” the little girl asks, letting Fluffy get closer.
I back away, doing my best to judge distance and taking the chance there is nothing else to my right as I side step Fluffy.
“Yes, and this is my guide dog.” Ro is wagging her tail, but holding steady, realizing this thing will bite her ear just like the other one did a few months ago.
“If you could put your dog closer to you and let us pass, that would be great.”
She doesn’t move and fluffy lunges. I step back one more step.
“How did you know we were here?”
I sigh, not sure how to answer. So I prepare to run the risk of Ro getting bitten and start to pass her, saying,
“I heard you.”
As we go quickly by, fluffy lunges again and I leash guide Ro forward until we’re safely past. Once we’re back to a good stride, I think, that if I even thought her parents were around, I would have laid into them. How irresponsible of them to allow a 5 or 6 year old manage even a little dog in public, alone and untrained. Sheesh, it could have been lunch for some other dog with less manners.

Ah, life and the streets of suburbia.

Be Well, Annie C. & Verona, dog guide extraordinaire My blog:

I write to find out what I think. — Stephen King

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