Old friends understand. They really do.
And so today, the tendrils of guilt find small purchase in the face of an understanding I know my backyard zendo will extend. It is an old friend, this small building fifty or sixty feet behind the house where I live. Year after year, I have visited, at least on a weekly, Sunday basis, but sometimes more as well. We have become old friends, as slap-happy and inane as that may sound.
After so many years, I trust my old friend will understand that today I will not visit. The fallen snow is too much to shovel and I will do a little zazen in the house and imagine that my old friend will understand.
The zendo has never been happy in my visits and there is little reason to imagine it will be sad in my absence: Buildings don't 'understand.' But in this lack of 'understanding,' we understand each other as old friends do. We are tight as ticks with no tightness possible ... what better friendship could there possibly be?
It has been years and years (if ever ... I really don't recall) since I missed a Sunday sitting in the zendo that I built in 1998. But today I will not visit my old friend. Yesterday, I even turned away one prospective visitor: Besides the inability/unwillingness to shovel snow and create a physical path, there is a growing unwillingness/inability to extend myself metaphorically for 'others' ... a chore that can be as effort-ful as shoveling snow.
Old friends do not expend effort or extend themselves. "Sacred" and "profane" are too imaginatively arrogant.
They are old friends and that is enough.