To the Morning Whistler

(french version available here : Au Siffloteur des Matins)


From the fierce immaturity of my teenage years, I would question him about the endless universe waiting to be discovered, about far away place with incredible habits and customs…
Consistently, his attitude and words would answer : ‘my kitchen’.

He stood there every single morning for hours and practised in an endless circle : cleaning the dishes, wiping and drying the table, brooming the floor, tydying everything. up…all these tasks he would sew together using the thread of his joyous whistling in and out of the cloth of his lips.
The sounds he produced were closer to a hopping and hissing breathing and had no pretension to seek any melody.

I would feel sad and sorry that his whole playground had come down to this cubbyhole.
I would lazily blame his advanced age and the narrow-sighted era in which he had been born.
My eyes opened wide as the world and all he offered me was a ten-square-meter room.

Looking back, he was the one with sufficient space to welcome my spotty kid gesticulations.
I was the one ignoring the kitchen, as he inhabited it, contained the whole universe.

Those in-between years seemed to never end and in this man of gentle temper, what I perceived as an abdication before the full range of life, kept stirring my juvenile stew with bubbling questions :

Didn’t he have some great project to hold on to ? A mind blowing association of people to  join ? A stunning outlook to offer his contemporaries ?
Coudn’t he at least find interest in some foreign language and gather information on such or such topic in which he could hope to be though of as an expert ?

Now that I’m 39 years old, standing alone long before dawn in my kitchen,
as I enjoy the slow pace of the movements I colour with the faintest of whisles,
I understand him.

He was my grandfather.

His Zen dojo, his monastery, his real place of practice was his kitchen.
In it, he silently preached.

And I, the most blasphemous of all, the most unfaithful of lost souls.
a disciple so bad he even ignores his status of disciple,
Today, I quietly bow in the coolness of of the morning
I bow to him for the wealth of his trifling teaching.

(french version available here : Au Siffloteur des Matins)

Franck Joseph

©FJ August 2019
Les articles et méditations sont disponibles en version papier ici : RECUEILS

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