This morning we said goodbye to our tenzo (head cook). Her time to nourish us is over, for now, and she returns to her family to care for her infant granddaughter. She met us in each moment, giving her full attention to whomever was standing before her. And you got the feeling that she was not ignoring the pot on the stove, or the kitchen crew, or the countdown till dinner, but that her elastic field of inclusion had just expanded to envelop you.
Next week, fifteen students will arrive to participate in our fall practice period. They have somehow managed to arrange their lives to spend 78 days returning to center, nourishing what they suspect is their true self that has perhaps been frosted by busyness and shoulds.
The opposite of nourishing is multitasking. The working lunch does not satisfy. When we split our attention, we attend to nothing, and competence and thorough completion lose out in favor of a To-Do list that never ends. In the Gēnjō Kōān, Zen master Dōgen wrote what his tenzo – and ours – already knew: “Meeting one thing is mastering it; doing one practice is practicing completely.”