Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday, Meditation

Very early this morning, the Matron took ten minutes before waking her children and looked at the Master Plan, the family schedule and calendar, which now includes her daughter's full-time job(s) on top of everything else.

She experienced a moment of complete psychological dissolution.

Afterward, she and her husband forced their offspring (now she knows what kicking and screaming mean) into the van for the Buddhist version of Sunday school! Last year, Stryker hated his class and made that quite clear, in articulate and voluminous narrative.

So the general spin from the children's team was that the Matron was shoving loving kindness down unwilling, powerless and anti-lovingkindness throats. Oh, she is evil! Just imagine, promoting mindfulness and goodwill!?

While the children were tortured in separate rooms, the Matron and her husband listened to yet another gripping dharma talk, actually available online.

Today, the priest was Myo-O Habermas-Scher, a late middle-aged mother who has been doing this stuff for 30 years. And she confessed that fear still gripped her. Not just fear, but rip-your-guts-someday-I-will-no-longer-exist-and-I-will-leave-my-children-deep-tissue-crisis level.

She talked to HER teacher about this and, what he said?

The Matron is working from aging memory, but in sum: Fear is a treasure. Do not trust people who do not know fear like a friend. They're dangerous. Embrace and welcome fear so fear loses her power; if you don't, you will die with fear.

Myo-O moved into some scary Tibetan yogi, who asks people to do exactly the thing they fear the most as part of their spiritual practice. Does someone repel you? This is the person you're to embrace, to help, to love.

No small order. Move toward what threatens.

Someone asked about denial, that universal mechanism. Myo-O's take made the Matron glisten! She's a fan of denial, herself.

Myo-O: "Denial is a beautiful thing. It's a place to rest. You should use it. It would be hard to get through breakfast and getting the children to school if you were focusing on the fact that you will soon cease to exist, at all. And your children."

Oh, friends. There were no soft landings today, no pulling punches. So the Matron went through the spiritual ringer. And when she gathered her brood, post indoctrination?

They had a fabulous time! They were all precept, bow and dharama.

Later, tonight, the Matron walked to her van in a bad neighborhood, the kind where you keep your head up and purse close. She was tired and her hands were full. She was 20 minutes late to start the process of retreiving her 3 children from playdates conveniently located in disparate parts of the city. She felt the pressure of the Mater Plan ahead, the schedule, the job, the chaos.

She listened to her cell phone messages on the short walk to the van and heard this:

"Hi Mary! This is cousin X. Remember, we've moved elderly Aunt Kay to Minneapolis, now that she's 94 and all. And after my three surgeries, my legs aren't working all that well and so I hope that you can help out with Aunt Kay's care? If you're not too busy?"

Just as Stress started to knock over the Matron, a woman approached her, crying. Visibly, staggeringly poor and in distress.

Woman: "Do you have any money? A few coins? See this key? I borrowed a car and there was no gas! But I have to go to my job as a personal care assistant and first, get some cheese or something for my children at SA before I get the gas. There's no money for gas! I'll lose this job!"

The woman broke down and wept.

The Matron did what any good Buddhist would do. She made facial reference to her full arms, shook her head no (it's a bad neighborhood, remember), got in the van and slammed the door. She'll never forget the despair on the woman's face when she did this.

Crying, the woman--who seemed to have a small child waiting for her at the corner--took off in hot pursuit of another passer-by, who also rejected her.

And the Matron? She came to her senses. She pulled over and gave that woman every last red cent in her wallet. It was only $10, but it was something.

Matron: "I'm sorry! I can afford to give you money and I didn't. Here you go. Good luck."

Woman: "I know that this money isn't much to you. But the prayers I'm going to give you every day for a life time might be payback. The Lord knows I'm not taking you. You just saved my job. My children. God will hear about this."

Thank you, Myo-O. The Matron was initally repelled by need, by fear, by dirt and poverty and grime and she was able to participate in that without concern for self, but attention to others. And she called her cousin and said that the family was pressed to the wire for time, but yes. She can help out with Aunt Kay. Sure, so maybe the blog will suffer.

That's what she's trying to cram down her children's throats.


Anonymous said...

Atta girl.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You and katydidnot are soul sisters in the giving to those on the street department.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

The Matron? She knows of what she writes. I know she does.

Becky said...

Wow, that was a lot of living for one day. I really appreciated the stuff you passed on from your priest.

Makes my day of bitching about putting laundry away seem, well, like maybe I shouldn't be bitching so much. To say the least.

Great post.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

This did my heart a world of good.

Thank you.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I'm feeling as shallow as Becky up there. I went grocery shopping today. And I killed ants. That's it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Matron, for a second glad you came to your senses my dear friend.

Mrs. G. said...

Nice work, Matron. The kids are just yanking your chain.

Anonymous said...

I think it's time that Satan's Familiar had himself a little Zen.
And that you would dumb down your word verification for old people who even with glasses, have to try at least twice to get it.

Anonymous said...

Had me worried for a moment there....well done you...I'm not religious, but what goes around, comes around...make sure you blog us the good kharma that comes back! There is sure to be some.

Anonymous said...

I woulda done the same thing. In the same order. Nice work.

Erin said...

I am always moved by Meditation, Sunday. It may be the next best thing to actually being there.

Lynda said...

You made the highest/best choices - nice going!

Liv said...

every time i open up my book and read one of the lojong teachings i grapple. and then i look at my students and read anyway.

thefirecat said...

Somehow all these months it hadn't dawned on me that you were attending these dharma talks at Minnesota Zen Center.


Let's just say I read Natalie Goldberg, so the Zen Center has always been a part of my spiritual heritage.

Am I doing okay? said...

Great post post. What a great bedtime story for me. I hope everyone lives happily ever after.