This is the first chapter in a series called, “Growing Wings to Love,” an exploration of a young woman developing the capacity to love deeply. Enjoy! And may there be great blessing for your own journey of love!
This day began as any other, and yet this day would change Angie at the deepest level. She arrived at school and sat down at her desk. Her parents were Buddhist and had put her in a Buddhist private school because she had been acting out and getting involved with “bad” kids in the couple of years before.
Her teacher came into the room with a somber look on her face and said, “A woman has died in the community. When we go in for our morning meditation, her body is in the shrine room. If you don’t want to go in, you don’t have to. We just wanted to let you know.”
Everyone went in to sit, and Angie thought she would give it a try. She settled on her cushion, aware of the coffin that was to the left of the shrine. The gong sounded three times, and she settled into finding her breath. She felt very aware, like there was something pressing on her awareness – something pressing on her heart. There was both a tightness and a fullness within her being as she felt her breath going out and then back in.
Who was this woman? How had she died? [thinking] back to the breath… What does she look like? I smell something… Is that her body decaying? What is that smell? [thinking] back to the breath… I feel really claustrophobic. I wish I hadn’t come in to meditate this morning with this body. Why would the teachers put us through this? [thinking] back to the breath… Breath going out, breath coming in. Settling a little with this profound silence, being with the presence of death.
Death is terrifying. Is it really going to happen to me? Yes, it is going to happen to me. And to everyone I know. That is so scary! Can I handle it? [thinking] back to the breath. Breathing gently, being really gentle with my heart as I walk through this experience. The sharpness of this moment, and being present with my breath. Being exquisitely present with my breath, awkwardly present, painfully present – all at once.
Time slows down, and I’m just being here. Being here with this body. Being here with my fear. Being with my breathing, out and in.
After an eternity, the gong rings. Angie is slow to move after this deep experience – almost afraid to move. But she does, and she follows the others back to the classroom. When she is riding the bus home, a woman drops her bag of groceries. A package of cookies opens and cookies spill out all over the floor of the bus. Angie’s eyes swell and tears come pouring out, and she cannot stop them.
Your comments on this chapter are most welcome below.