By Anne Dellenbaugh In early September, fourteen women on a "Mountain Dharma" backpacking trip set camp under large white pines and firs by a stream in northern Maine. A granite ledge, worn smooth by running water since glacial time, served as a lovely stream-side terrace. I had not planned to do a tea meditation, but when I saw all the mugs sitting together in one place on the rock next to a pot of steaming hot cider and the women gathered around, I saw the opportunity and thought, "Why not? This is perfect." We poured the cider and passed it, using two frying pans as trays. The warm mugs felt good in our cold hands—easy to "hold mindfulness in my two hands" when it feels this good, I thought.
After a few minutes we shared songs and gathas that had helped us along the path (literally): "Breathing in, a lotus blooms in this step. Breathing out, I plant peace." This was shortened to "Lotus/Peaceful" and was used while climbing the steep sections, so we could enjoy the mountain instead of fighting it. We sang some songs and bowed deeply to each other. Then we washed our mugs, packed them away, and began to walk up the trail. So simple, I thought, and yet the cider meditation was a jewel in the middle of the trip.
Anne Dellenbaugh, newly ordained in the Order of Interbeing, leads wilderness trips for women and lives in Brunswick, Maine.