Later today I will drive to the Temple in a likely swirl of emotions. I will leave my family behind for a four-day retreat, an opportunity that is a great gift. Yet I will be driving away from goodnight kisses, baseball and t-ball games, and chalk drawings on the driveway. Away from faces asking me why I have to go. I’ll leave behind my wife to pick up these pieces with grace and great generosity.
Sesshin, the name for extended retreats in Zen, translates as touching the heart mind. When I returned home from an eight-day sesshin last summer, the weight of this touching was almost too much to bear, too much to express. I wrote these words for my wife:
opening the door, seeing each of you, touching each of you, tears not from missing you [though how I did] -- but rising from a heart once, twice, innumerably papered over by each and every part of our rushing lives. a heart stacked upon by ten thousand necessities pressing down on a space deep inside. a heart now broken open so that the tears streaking down my cheek contain my whole life, falling onto the rise of your shoulder.