Monday, August 9, 2010

Finding Courage

My son has been on a path of discovery. He took a year off from his state job to be in a place of self-exploration. During this time he and I made many treks to Green Gulch Zen Center, some of them for the day, some of them when I was dropping him off or picking him up from spending time there. He was becoming more and more involved with the zen lifestyle of yoga, meditation, organic gardening. As he continued to pursue, open-hearted, he was led to check out another similar place -- Great Vow Monastery in Portland, Oregon, and his meditation practice led him to the decision to complete a 5 day silent 'sit', which means meditating for most of the day, in silence.

This decision was no small matter as he lives in Santa Barbara, a distance of well over 900 miles one way. Did I mention my son is visually impaired and does not drive? He took the train/bus from Santa Barbara to Sacramento, stayed a few days, then was scheduled to take the train the rest of the distance beginning at midnight. That night as I was readying for bed I realized I had a phone message from him. He was already at the train station 2 hours ahead of time, his friend having dropped him off, waiting. He faced a 15 hour ride on the train, alone, all night and into the next day.

I was suddenly overcome with emotion that initially felt like fear and concern for his safety. Although he is 28 years old and very intelligent, I worry about people somehow taking advantage of him, or an something unsavory happening to him due to his visual challenges. There he was, in the station, 2 hours to kill, plus so many ahead. He did not have his computer reader so could not 'read' books on the train. His trip sounded rather horrendous to me, scary, long, boring even. What started to creep into my emotions over and in front of the sadness was amazing respect. I knew what it was taking for him to make this journey, then stay the night in Portland (a town he does not know) in a youth hostel, not to mention the week at the monastery and another 15 hour train ride back to Sacramento. This was really HUGE! And why was he doing it? For himself, for his own journey. By this time I was laying in bed sobbing. I sobbed first from maternal concern, then for my utter Blown Away-ness of what he was doing, and last for me. What courage he was demonstrating, to want to do something for one's self so badly, to have that much determination, I felt humbled that I did not feel I possessed enough of that same quality to do something equally courageous for my self, for something good for me.

And in that moment, I recognized how much more deeply I loved my son for that gift.

Transitioning through changes, rarely easy or comfortable, usually requiring our utmost strength and courage.