Thursday, December 3, 2009

Take a moment, pause


I don't have much to say other than to make note of a small moment I experienced earlier this morning.

When I arrive at the dojo in the early mornings during the winter, it's still very dark and bitterly cold. So, too, is the dojo itself. I come in, turn on the lights, turn on the heater and wait for things to warm up. I used to leave my bag which contained my gi in my car all the time, but climbing into a stiff gi that's been sitting outside all night in the freezing cold is not the most pleasant experience, so I've began bringing it inside when I come home after work (when I remember).

Needless to say, it takes a while to get the blood flowing and the joints loose. Once you get going, though, the darkness and the cold seem to fade away. When you can enjoy a good session with a friendly partner, where both of you learn and grow, the warmth begins to emanate from inside.

After class was over this morning, we got dressed and filed out of the dressing room as usual. The way our particular dojo is built, you have to cross a corner of the mat to get from the dressing rooms to the main lobby where we leave our shoes. As I emerged from the dressing room, though, I stopped dead in my tracks.

The entire dojo had turned to gold. At first, I couldn't make sense of the sudden change. The normal overhead lights, which are florescent, are bright and bluish-white. Someone ahead of me had switched them off, allowing the rising sun to flood the dojo in a rich bath of warm, glowing honey.

Everyone else continued to chat and put on their shoes. But I was awed into silence. I could only stand and behold. Suddenly, the dojo had become... a temple, for lack of a better word. I couldn't help but feel I needed to be as reverent as a monk in a chapel.

I wonder... while I'm sure I would have felt the same if I had experienced that sort of light show out in nature, which is its own temple, would I have felt that way if I had experienced it in another building? My home? The place where I work? A gas station?

I'm not Catholic, but from what I understand, most Catholic churches are open all day, and people are welcome to come in and find solace, quietude, a place to pray and ponder (I think; I know I've encountered it somewhere). I've never had something like that available to me, but always thought it would be nice. For me, the dojo is sort of that place. A couple of times over the years, I've taken my lunch break and ducked over to the dojo when no classes were being held, and just sat there.

I suppose a place which hosts positive activities with positive participants, where friendliness and encouragement and safety are abundant, can't help but become a positive thing in and of itself. Whether it's spiritual or magic, I don't know.

But it's definitely worth stopping to notice.

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