The Waystead Clearances
The Waystead is a Hermitage of the Lindisfarne Community, and belongs to the Zen branch of the Community, The New Seeds Priory, under the direction of Prior Rensho. I am also a Solitary of the Community under the guidance of Amma Beth, Prioress of Solitaries.
The name “Waystead” is meant to suggest a threshold; a kind of hinterland between the known and unknown; the seen and the unseen. It implies a place which holds both the holy and the ordinary; a haven which contains both distress and comfort; a refuge which is both safe and completely defenseless.
The Waystead Clearances are my description of a way of life in which I undertake to live in agreement with God— they embody a practice that I consent to with all my heart, mind, and will.
One: To trust in God’s call to the practice of a solitary, contemplative life.
Two: To keep a quiet household; empty of expectations but open to grace.
Three: To hold myself in kinship with all beings in Christ
Four: To bear in mind that kindness is necessary for knowledge to become wisdom.
Five: To practice equanimity, both in delight and in discontent.
Six: To keep my vows as both Christian and Buddhist, living according to the Way.
Seven: To keep the habit of silence as a practice of the Presence of God.
Eight: To manifest the unity of heart-mind-body in the practice of a bodily skill.
Nine: To study only for the sake of learning, not for any other reason or reward.
Ten: To practice living without contention or discord, in affinity with all beings.
Eleven: To wait on God, learning to stop where certainty ends and remain there.
This Way of life is firmly rooted in prayer and contemplation, and it is absolutely not self-referential in any way. In fact, every time I try to conceive of it in terms of some kind of paradigm, or form an opinion or a set of beliefs about it, it’s as if someone put their finger across my lips and said, “Shhh, stop it!” It entirely relies on what the author Maggie Ross calls “beholding.” It is a watchful waiting, but a waiting in the present, without expectations or presumptions. It is a ‘holding’ of ‘being.’ It is a practice of un-knowing. It is an exercise of incorporeal stamina and unfocused clarity. It is roaming at a standstill. It is a sure recognition of the utterly unfamiliar. It is an endless horizon in the compass of a pebble. It is a Mobius strip composed of life and death, being and un-being, action and inaction. It embodies, at the very same time, the wind that blows and the one that hears it blow. It is the certain knowledge, and—at the very same instant—an outright ignorance, of where that wind comes from.”
Beholding and Beholden, both to God and by God— a Way of Life that recognizes that “what the Christ has freed us for is freedom,” (Galatians 5) and that the Buddha teaches us how to practice living in that same freedom: “Vast is the Robe of Liberation, a formless field of benefaction. I wear the Tathagata’s teaching, saving all sentient beings.” (The Verse of the Kesa)