Saturday, March 5, 2011

splattering the robe

In the Zen Buddhist Tradition there's a ritual I truly adore. Those who choose to take the vows of Jukai—to become dedicated students— sew a small special robe in the shape of a rice field. This garment is called a Rakusu. It's a collection of delicate scraps of fabric patched into a hand-sewn quilt worn across the front of the body. The ordained wear it over their sitting robes as an affirmation of their vows (and so other students are aware of the level of their practice). It takes weeks to create these relics by hand. When the final product is done it is magical. A handmade meditation.

Stories passed down tell of Zen teachers who looked at their students' robes with discomfort bordering on disgust. The students had too much pride in the work, too much attachment to an item that would compost into soil if left out in the rain too long. So to keep their students awake to the point of this world (to live free of attachment and suffering) they would splatter a bit of ink, or tear a corner, or squash a berry into that beautiful robe. Anything that would remove that silly desire to keep something owned as worthy of permanence: from being seen as an object instead of a purpose. It kept folk's eyes on the prize, so to speak.

I once heard a Baptist pastor say that you never see a U-haul following a hearse. He was a great Zen teacher.

Gene Logsdon says the best investment a small farmer can make is in their truck. It does a million different jobs, and makes an agricultural life possible. You get a stock trailer, hay hauler, and car all wrapped up into one. In a way, buying a truck is a homesteading Jukai. It is your Rakusu. As an object of utility it doesn't need to be shiny and show-room ready. It just needs to practice. It needs to be a truck.

The seven-year-old Dodge Dakota I bought yesterday came with a few dents and tears. There's no point in being overly proud in something already imperfect. Just 24-hours after driving it off the lot I have it coated in mud, strewn with hay, and coffee-rin stained. To own it I had to trade in the truck that had carried the farm this far. It was sad to see that little Ford go. Sadder than it should be.

Gain and Loss. Ink and berries.

Consider the robe splattered.


Blogger J. said...

Wonderful it! :) No doubt you are keeping your eye on the prize, Jenna. Best wishes with your "new-to-you" workhorse.

March 5, 2011 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger said...

That's awesome... I'm hunting a truck now too... we just got our offer accepted on our own 3 acre homestead and I have to say, your blog has been an inspiration for us to go and get it done. We close in 20 days. Just me and my two daughters... I bought my youngest your Chick Days book today because she is SO into chickens... (me too!) We want sheep and a pair of ponies... in fact it's really odd how we're having some of the same things happen to us that are happening to you... we almost got a pair of ponies on Friday that were in a pickle... and finally decided it was just not to be. We have so much to do before we're truely ready for them... like, oh, buy a truck... move in? haha...

Anyways, congrats on the truck! Oddly, it's the same one we're looking at too! A Dodge ram... we're Chrysler folk here... and that is a nice looking, strong truck!!! ENJOY!


March 5, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Sherri!!!! Congrats on the dirt!!!!

March 5, 2011 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Jenna, what a great parable! It comes at a good time for me, too, as I work toward de-cluttering and getting more organized. Congrats on the truck - I hope it does you well.

March 5, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Lissa B. said...

Wonderful! It looks like this new Ram of yours will help a lot in future farm life! Good luck with Gibson too, by the way.

March 6, 2011 at 2:23 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Happy for you Jenna! You gave that Ford the time of its life! Seasons change, as do needs. I am so happy to see that quad cab 4x4 in your driveway! Cheers to new adventures. Your Zen comments remind me of wabi sabi - the beauty in imperfection.

March 6, 2011 at 2:25 AM  
Blogger said...

Thanks Jenna! We are so excited... we know if you can make it happen as one tuff farmin' gal... we three chicks can make it so, too! It's been a lifelong dream of mine, ever since I worked a summer at a stable, I knew I had to be rural at some point in my life. I'm happy to say, you just gotta keep feeding your barnheart and make it so, no matter what. I'm going to be 48 this November... and it's taken me 30 years to make this move... thank you for giving me the inspiration to make it REAL and no longer a DREAM!!!

Yeah Jenna! Thank you!!!

Sherri, Jessy and Maggie

March 6, 2011 at 3:00 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

That is pretty cool. Every self sufficient woman needs a pickup truck. Just don't forget the transfercase is over the front so you need weight in the back on bad roads even in 4WD. Been there, done that and it can get a tad unnerving.

March 6, 2011 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

We must let go if we want to move forward. Not easy, but necessary.

March 6, 2011 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

I love a Dodge...old or new!

Congrats on the new work horse. She is a beauty!

I never heard the robe story, I don't know much about the Zen Buddhist Tradition, but it is a good story for any religion!

March 6, 2011 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Driving around in suburbia, I've always looked at big trucks askance...I say, if it's too shiny, you don't need a truck.

(The sheep seem to be eyeing the Dakota suspiciously..."you're not gonna be loading us in that thing, are you?")

March 6, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

An example: I knew a couple who built their ideal retirement home, and it was lovely. They installed in this spare and lovely repro Greek Revival house the ultimate woodstove; they had a more than adequate woodpile; and they never once lit that stove because that would take the new shine off it and endanger the perfect floors with muck from the wood carried in and make too much of a mess.
You use that truck Jenna and make it work for you.......!

March 6, 2011 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

I have never heard that either. But it sure is true for anyone, no matter where they are. I can truely say my Ford F150 is a true workhorse. Dents, dings and broken tailgate from hauling round bales and all. Even the 8 mpg. Yep, a clean truck is too perty to use. But a farm truck just don't care.

March 6, 2011 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Muffy Sainte-Marie said...

I haven't checked in to your blog for some months - nice to come back and see that all's well on the farm. I love this little story. The truck is a beaut.

March 6, 2011 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

That is a fine and capable looking truck - well done! I live in the Land O' Trucks and I constantly see people driving around the urban areas in giant, shiny duallies with bed liners and nothing whatsoever in the back. It makes me nuts. I adore my tiny, beat up truck and am even MORE proud of it because of its (MANY) imperfections. It's a champ. I hope you get to enjoy the same kind of love for yours - the love of something because it serves you well and never lets you down.

March 6, 2011 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

I love this post, and congratulations on the truck! My dear friend is Zen Buddhist, and I remember her working on her rakusu during our craft and tea mornings last year. For anyone wondering what they look like, here's a link to a post she wrote about it:

May your truck continue to become beautifully splattered!

March 6, 2011 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Debby said...

So happy for you! Discovered you blog this past December and I'm hooked. I've read back as far as Sept.2008 so I can see where you started. What an amazing story and journey and I love being part of it !!! By the way....I'm still working my way back to the begining.

March 6, 2011 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

So young and yet so wise. You are an amazing woman Jenna. It is a pleasure following along on your journey.

March 6, 2011 at 10:14 AM  
OpenID sissyjane said...

So happy you have a truck that is safe to drive in winter! Now, back to praying for spring...

March 6, 2011 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Congratulations on your animal-appropriate truck purchase! I would love to have a truck. I feel like such a fraud when I drive into the Wilco pickup area and they load a single bale of straw into the back of my BMW wagon. It's the only vehicle we have and my husband and I share it. We don't drive much anyway. But I would really love to have a truck for my gardening and playacting at farming. Someday, I'll need it more because we are going to have chickens. But even now it would be useful for hauling lumber and all. I wrote a post about going to Wilco for straw and that if I thought I could cram two bales in the wagon I'd do it. The friend that I was going to meet for the first time that Saturday offered to haul straw for my in her truck, which she did, do now I have FOUR bales in the garage, and that should last me all summer.

By the way, her truck is a big ol' diesel RAM. A huge one! But then, her husband is a lumberjack (It's really his truck) and they live on forty acres. So their use of a truck is for real.

I'm glad you have something dependable for your snowy winters.

March 6, 2011 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Good truck for you Jenna. Having formerly owned a Dodge, all I want to say to you is this. If it is an automatic transmission, service it regularly and take GOOD care of it.

March 6, 2011 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger ladybughomer said...

My son keeps his Tundra spotless. And he is a city kid. But he is also a firefighter and accustomed to keeping the rigs and trucks cleaner than we civilians would ever know. (Toothbrushes for cleaning underneath the trucks, waxing the undercarriage, and etc.) But my country uncle and our country cousins embrace the mud. It is all a matter of use, yes? Jenna - congrats!!

March 6, 2011 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger April said...


March 6, 2011 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Nice looking truck, I've been driving a '03 Dakota since '04. I don't have the extra seats though and it's a manual transmission. This is my second Dakota and the only problem I have had with them is the spark plugs wires get damp very easy and makes for a rough ride until they dry out. Haven't gotten stuck with it yet. Mine's a half ton, I'm guessing yours is as well, so you can't go crazy with loading it but it's a nice blend of small and big truck.

March 6, 2011 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Now that's a TRUCK!

March 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM  

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