Saturday, July 22, 2006

We awaken together

Whew! Just in from a week long retreat given by the monastics from the Green Mountain Dharma Center and Maple Forest Monastery in Vermont who practice in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. The retreat took place on a beautiful college campus in Massachusetts and neither the near scorching heat nor the non-airconditioned dorms could dampen our enthusiasm or group spirit. The numbers were small, a few dozen adults and nearly as many children it seemed, so it was possible to really connect in dharma discussion groups and in the abundant leisure time as well.

One day of the retreat was called "Lazy Day", a day set aside for our choice of spiritual pursuit such as sitting meditation, spiritual reading, walking meditation, volleyball, frisbee, capture the flag, or just hanging out on the lawn! Zenkid, my 13 year old daughter and roommate, and I decided to stay pretty much in the rhythm of the other days. I got up at the usual time for early sitting then planned to spend most of the day reflecting and writing. ZK arose early as well and headed to the pond where the teens had been meditating. I asked her to just let me know when she changed locations.

Some of the adults later reported feeling a little lost with free time on their hands and apparently ZK had the same issue...I had just sunken into some lovely silence when I heard the brrrr, brrrr of my cell phone vibrating. Text message: "At pond. Ground is wet. Mosquitoes. Going to med hall." I answer, "Ground will be dry later. Ok". I take a deep breathe and start to settle in. Thirty minutes later, brrrr brrrr. "At med hall. No one is here. Where is everyone?"
I peck back, "It's early. Meditate anyway." And so it continued even as each of us changed locations. "In chapel. Bad smell", "Don't like soccer", "What should I wear to rose ceremony", "Where are my sweats"... No joke, I counted. Twelve messages.

So it felt like I spent my lazy day in little segments reminding myself that she was doing what I had asked her to do and acknowledging that children can just be plain inconvenient. We met up for silent dinner and on our walk back to the dorm she told me, "I've been thinking about this all day and I've decided to take the Five Mindfulness Trainings (the 5 Precepts)." I tried to feign nonchalance and commented brightly, "Oh really?" but I had to turn my head slightly to the side to hide the tears welling up in my eyes. All I could think of was the pink bookmark I'd purchased the day before. It quotes Thich Nhat Hanh:

I walk for you.
You smile for me.
We awaken together.

ZK has a dharma name now: Loving Compassion of the Heart, chosen for her by her long adored Brother Phap B. I stood off to the side as the young monk who is only perhaps twice her age and possibly twice her height explained that he chose her name to be like his which also includes Compassion of the Heart, because she is his "continuation".
More looking out windows, holding back tears. I'm so grateful we awaken together.

Authentic Kindness of the Heart


Blogger Gareth said...

That's wonderful, Zenmom, thank you for sharing this :)

5:41 AM  
Blogger Sujatin said...

Oh, that is so touching. I'm delighted at this fantastic news. Hugs from Sujatin

9:46 AM  
Blogger Dida said...

From someone who has only recently begun mindfulness practice, I just wanted to let you know how inspirational that story is.

I have a 3 year old and have found that mindful parenting is both difficult and rewarding. The center I attend has classes for the little tykes as well as for parents and am looking forward to involving him in the practice.

3:37 PM  

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