About a week ago someone told us that our annual tradition of apple picking was coming around once again. There are some orchards nearby that are harvested a couple times over the course of the autumn. Whatever can’t be gathered by the mechanized pickers is left for any enthusiastic locals with a taste for apples. We definitely qualified!
The Bikkhu Sangha stayed back in Plum Village to observe the monastery boundaries for the Winter Retreat. The novices and lay friends were free to pick apples and enjoy the crisp, morning air. There was a bit of dissent in our car ride, protests were made against a few passing rain clouds, but in the end the sun came out and apples were enjoyed by all.
Picking was a pretty joyful endeavor, and turned out to be a bit absurd as well. Most of the apples were isolated and out of reach. The Plum Village pack mentality kept us together, and the result was small groups of people moving around with a ladder, setting it up, picking one apple, and then moving on. We weren’t going to win any productivity awards but smiles were in abundance.
Thay joined us for the morning and proved to be a devoted picker. All apples within reach were plucked with care and placed in our crate. More difficult prospects were dislodged with an umbrella and caught by one of the attendants. We wandered from row to row as Thay checked in with the brothers and sisters. Is everyone having a good time? I think we were.
After an hour or so it seemed that our objective was not so much to supply the Sangha with apples, but more to supply ourselves with enough apples for a picnic. We sat between two rows of trees and enjoyed slices of apple sandwiched by a couple of crackers. Brothers and sisters came by, joined us for a snack, and continued with the harvest.
Just before the end of our picnic he delivered the landmark teaching, “Present moment, apple moment.” It may not make it into the next calligraphy exhibition, but it was certainly relevant at the time. The morning with Thay left me feeling light and peaceful, and chock full of apples. In the afternoon, I just napped. ~Troi Bieu Hien
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