An early winter evening. Thursday. 8PM
The ritual complete: arguments over the vegetables and the fruit put away for the night, but safeguarded like Treasure, of course, to be presented and expanded upon the next day and the next and the next – this is a ritual, after all, by definition repeated until life is unrecognizable without it – and teeth brushed, books read, sibling insurrections quashed. Middle Child in bed with her precious Bear and a book about frogs, her father in his study, the baby already diving into the enviable ocean of infant slumber…..
The whole house settles, as homes mysteriously do, into the spreading silence of evening.
First born child, my Somber Child, has been raging against his furious intelligence,
his constantly violated sense of Justice,
which is defined, at the moment,
as having life flow in only one direction,
toward his own desire
he keeps to his own side
as if his body might be caught and torn by barbed wire
if he were to try crossing over
to another point of view.
“Sit with me,” I said to him, helpless,
heartbroken for the tiny body (so thin)
and the frustrated, fine mind (so expansive)
he is drowning
in waves of anger
the tide is of his own making
and if he would just sit
sit with me
and stop fighting the waves
the tide would recede
Why can’t I teach him this?
I practiced Metta, the sacred meditation of Loving-Kindness. First, the mind selects one being, and these words, or something like them, are spoken or prayed: “May you be free from suffering. May you find peace. May you find freedom.” Then another person is added to the list, and another and another, until every sentient being is embraced, by a single mind, which is really every Mind, or no-Mind – the riddle can’t be solved – and the universe is blessed, awash in love and prayer.
Metta is difficult. Particularly when one has love for many creatures but not much love for oneself. This is the basic struggle of so many, and certainly for me.
On this night, I meditated, and then chanted om’s, and then spoke prayers for the end of suffering for all beings.
My son lay restless on my bed,
covered in a snow-white blanket
just his dark head and slender arms visible.
He twisted like a fish on sand
while I sat
a dark-rose lamp our only light
The longer I sat
the quieter his body became
the silence a glowing chain
As I spoke the Metta prayers
I could feel his mind come closer
like a feral cat
in great need of milk.
When I finished
he pulled the chain between us:
“Say more,” he said. “Say it for me
and for Dada, and for yourself.”
I spoke the words: “May you find peace
and be free of suffering.”
I went down the list he created.
The words an anchor
settling his body
against the waves
Later, after I led him in tender
to his own bed,
I had not named myself – –