Reflections on Joan’s reception for Sri Lanka Relief

Although I made a decision to make a small monetary donation to Sensei’s team of psychotherapists weeks before an upcoming reception for them on July 22nd, I am happy I was able to attend the small gathering for them, in honor and support for their ongoing efforts. Joan’s presentation of the facts of the country’s long and fluctuating crises, both natural and man-made, was an eye-opening reminder of the extreme suffering that takes place all over the world. What I was unexpectedly delighted to hear and feel, however, was the love and intimacy which seemed to simply exude from my fellow sentient beings who simply decided to celebrate, in a small way, the simple and straightforward kindness of others. My fellow sangha members helped prepare for the event while I hemmed and hawed about whether I could or should make it late to the event from work. But when I got to Joan’s, I was slowly immersed in a lovely glowing ambience and surrounded by tender laughter, good food, calming music and a beautiful dawning sky. As one of the visiting therapists was strumming a guitar, I began to calm down from the day’s hectic pace , started to eat more slowly, and glanced over to my lovely wife, Doreen, and told her “I love you.” By the end of the evening, what I learned was that–along with the real concrete need to give money and resources–we also have a very critical need to provide love and emotional support to each other. In fact, the two are intertwined: It is money that helps these talented and caring individuals to continue their work abroad. I guess what really struck me, however, was how I, inadvertently, was also the recipient of this love and support: I felt their kindness right here. I didn’t know I needed it when I entered the room, but there it was exuding itself, slowly enveloping me, allowing me to switch gears, and reminding me that much of my own suffering is self-propagated. My day was hectic but I helped make it so. The magic of walking into the sangha, this community of sober and like-minded individuals, gave me the scaffold and support to make this realization possible. I reflected on the fact that we truly are interdependent, and remember Joan’s little phrase that in giving we transform the gift as the gift transforms us, or, as I believe Mother Theresa put it, “There are no such things as great acts, just small acts done with great love.” Maybe Dogen would say this kind of love leaves no trace and that this no-trace continues forever. May it be so.

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One Response to Reflections on Joan’s reception for Sri Lanka Relief

  1. Ellen Risbarg says:

    Beautiful and tender. Your patients are fortunate.

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