I’m grateful for a thought-provoking guest. A college friend stopped by on a cross-country drive, and I was grateful to be able to walk to the canyon with him, cook him a real dinner, and serve him cake and coffee in the morning back at the canyon before he resumed his travels. He is a kind, considerate, honest, caring man. We talked nonstop while he was here, reminiscing about our college years, asking each other about our present lives and the years between, covering deep topics of life and death and God and Buddha.
He asked me how I came to Buddhism, and I asked him how he came to be a born-again Baptist. Our world-views are quite different, and I was so grateful for the mindfulness practice that allowed me to keep an open heart and open mind as we talked, enabling me to listen deeply to his experience and beliefs without judgment, and deepen our connection. Our conversation has caused me to revisit some questions I’ve been coasting with for awhile: What exactly do I believe, and why do I believe it? He was an easy, open person long ago, comfortable to be around, and he remains so today. There were moments during our visit of teary tenderness, and moments of light laughter.
He recalled some things about our college years that I had forgotten, and vice versa. One memory he resurrected for me was how we used to tap on the wall between our rooms in freshman dorm to communicate. Sometimes it meant ‘meet outside,’ sometimes it summoned us to the windows where we made plans from our third story rooms. He was recently diagnosed with MS, and we talked a lot about the trajectory of his symptoms, and some strange symptoms I’ve been experiencing. He still works as a nurse, and encouraged me to see a neurologist. That’s been on my list anyway.
This spring has brought more opportunity than ever to surrender: to the lush green carpet of weeds through the yard and woods, to the bad grass I battled for years, to the prolific catmint I’ve tried to control; and to the process of my own physical aging and mortality. I’m grateful for equanimity and the relief of surrender.