By Guy Nicholls
Land Caretakers at the Wangapeka Retreat Centre have to be compassionately tough and resilient or else, as many know, the Land will soon enough be taking care of them. Thankfully for me every day in some way feeds into the enlightening process. It’s absolutely nothing like serving out a sentence at a Dharmic penitentiary! In fact physical labour is the perfect companion to the challenges and insights of learning to practice meditation.
This summer has been blisteringly hot at times. Sparrows have been relishing the dry dusty driveway for their baths. The Cicada chorus has been entrancing and for some just a little too piercing. Their song is gradually dwindling away with the shorter days and first signs of Autumn. Two sheep have installed themselves as unwelcomed residents in the area around Omahu and Skydancer huts, they’re starting to resemble Shrek and are proving surprisingly cunning and elusive. Our family of Falcons seems to have gotten the mindfulness message and stopped their sometimes painful dive bombing behaviour.
On top of a dawn-ish meditation and a nutritious breakfast of infamous Wangapeka Museli or buckwheat pancakes dowsed in Pics Peanut butter the work tasks begin for The Land Caretaker. Each day is dependably unpredictable, only very rare caretakers can make a plan and stick too it. The jobs list is long so it’s wise to choose just one at a time. Recently the long armed loppers have been like an extension of my body. No Blackberry stem or Bracken shoot is safe from my snipping mentality. My attention has been turned to the driveway to attempt to combat the forces of drought and gravity. Recent retreats have been constructive. Its great to observe how a little Dana to the Land every day makes such a positive difference.
It’s important for the Land Caretaker to pace themselves and not attempt too much all at once. So at some point everyday there’s usually a chance to sample one of the contemplative comfy chairs. I often catch myself lost in some type of dreamy mind state, neglecting my cup of tea, gazing out the window at the garden. This is no sign of laziness, more a chance to restore valuable energy for the next tasks.
For the Land Caretaker it can be like forever being on call. Or like performing a juggling act with many different shaped objects. Omahu hut will soon get a protective coating for its thirsty looking exterior. Thanks to the determinations of Irene Eilers the upper units are going to get a lick of paint. Mostly it’s weed eating where weeds want weed eating, and attending as best as one can to all the other little calls of Dharma service. Each day of life for The Land Caretaker here at The Wangapeka is like a training session. I’ve never known for what exactly.It always feels like worthy path to go the way of!!!