A few years ago, the monks undertook the enormous task of transplanting dozens, if not hundreds, of paperwhite bulbs from their dense, concentrated existence in what used to be the lower garden to various places around the main buildings. We planted bulbs along the main road, in the courtyard, along the garden fence line, around the main bell, in the field by the Pavilion -- anywhere and everywhere we could think to plant them. They greet us in late January or early February with their delicious fragrance and cheery white blooms. They are our dear friends that return each year to brighten the dreariness of the dark, cold days of winter.
Because they are so numerous and can pop up anywhere, it's easy to step on their tiny green tips as they peek up through the earth. About a month ago, when going to ring the main bell, I noticed someone had thoughtfully "flagged" a paperwhite when it was still quite tiny as if to say, "Pay attention! There's new life growing here!" It was a beautiful example of the Monastery's devotion to leading a harmless life -- and assisting others to do so as well.
The structure of the Monastery is designed to support us in recognizing life in all its forms -- and not to miss it in this one, brief time we have to be alive! Since people rarely visit the Monastery during the winter months, most of Sangha miss the experience of paperwhites on the property. However, we all get to experience the lovingkindness of a Practice that reflects the unconditional compassion of life. In the words of James Joyce, "Love loves to love love."
(This photo doesn't do them justice, but here is a glimpse of the vast presence of paperwhites on the property.)