Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


The Weight of Compassion

I was doing OK with things, even during a phone conversation with SJ about all he knew and the phone calls he's had the past few days. I felt sadness and grave concern for DW, but was feeling past the choking pain. The day was filled with busy work and a lunch out at Blossoming Lotus with CK and GK. I didn't tell GK about DW over lunch, didn't want to rehash it at that time.

In the afternoon at home I got the merit list ready, adding DW's name to it. At some point the mind that knew the only thing that can be done right now is to chant for her and the mind that is in pain got separated. The pained mind forgot about my being the one to chant her name.

Until I got to it on the list. My voice freezing up in my throat, feeling like all the muscles and bones around my heart were being crushed together. I didn't want to chant her name and my voice broke, stayed broken and raw for the rest of service. I kept going but felt my face burning in embarrassment and discomfort a top the choking pain.

Afterward I was given the most beautiful compliment and offer of gratitude. RS came up to me and said that as he heard my voice breaking it occurred to him the tremendous weight I carry for the sangha in not only collecting all the names of the suffering and deceased, but in chanting them as well. He said he hadn't appreciated the burden that I hold for all of them and that he feels deep gratitude that I do this. He told me that he hears me as the actual voice of compassion for the whole sangha. Struggling with my own grief I felt the tears springing to my eyes again.

I felt overwhelmed and so humbled by his words. Sitting here now I'm trying to remember these words so I can learn to replace the fear and shame I feel when I cry with them.

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