a mother's meditation
By Susan Enzer (Won Bul Shim)
Often I am the first one there removing my shoes, placing them on the shelf just high enough for me to see. Closest to the end, not to confuse them with the others that will be added after the swish of the door opening, the ambient street sounds, dogs snuffling, voices deep, loud, muffled.
I walk carefully, slowly in my stockinged feet up the burnished oak stairway, cracked wall to my left, gripping the handrail and running my right hand, for balance, along the right ledge ascending. At the top of the stairs in the corner, black, round pancake cushions, to my right and at the head of the room, the altar, clean, simple, the polished black circle, perpetual, centered. I focus on that, hands pressed together, I am the sole witness. I bow slightly, politely, knowing this is for me. I grab a cushion with my left hand, place it on the mat at the end of the second row, always that end mat and glide across the polished, blonde wooden floor to take the small envelope with my name, affixed in my handwriting, and place some bills inside. Usually $20, or more when I have it, tuck the top into the envelope, glide back to the front of the room. The singing bowl, black, perfect-toned atop a cushion, waits to be called into service, to call us to service.
For now, it is just me. Hand stretched, bowing slightly, I place the envelope, alone, in the black lacquered box on the shelf at the altar. Candles not yet alight, incense – a single slender stalk, not yet sending small circlets of aromatic deodar cedar scent.
I walk to my place. Carefully I position myself on the black pancake atop the mat. I cross my legs, pull my tunic down and around my hips, my backside. My hands I place atop each knee, left hand palm down, right hand palm up trying to loosen the small tightness of each finger. Straightening my back I open slowly the spaces between my vertebrae, breathe, allow them room for the flow of energy, air, movement. I close my eyes. There is a gentle quietness, sound of earth, wind, water, just enough to begin to resonate. My belly absorbs it, sending the tones cell by cell throughout me.
This day, this morning, drop-by-drop tears trickle along the side of my nose. One thought returns over and over intermixed with the crackling, rustling of others positioning themselves -- be with me. Come with me to this quietest of places. This peaceful place, only the sound of my breath, my tongue resting against top teeth, jaw relaxed, breathing so deeply through my nostrils that my belly rises at the very center of the womb that was your home. And then slowly I breathe out through my mouth. A small sound as if blowing out a candle flame, pushing your energy out into the world for me to feel and see, to hold, to share.
This day I need to know you are here with me. From deep inside I think to you, urge you to be with me. Let me know you are in me, with me, part of me. The body is no more. The touch of your lips to the back of my right hand, only my memory, my remembrance, knowing your gratitude for each moment, each drive through the streets in search of cigarettes, coffee, an egg and smoky ham filled biscuit, the sunrise.
I think you. I think about you, Joshua. Come to this place and be here with me, with all of us today. This is peace, peaceful, full of vibrancy and vibration, whole, complete and kind, no suffering here.
Doyeon, light as sun rays, barely taking space or air, her long tunic gracefully fallen over crossed legs, begins the service. The singing bowl, vibration deep and perfectly pitched fills the room, fills me. And we begin, many voices, the call for kindness. Help me find my Buddha nature, the understanding and acceptance of impermanence. One hundred eight times my voice follows, leads the tones Na-Mu Ah-Mi-Ta Bul, which means return to Amita Buddha, the Buddha of infinite light and life within all of us.
Deeply and throughout myself I carry this. My voice only, no others do I hear. For a tiny moment I feel myself climb up and out to be part of the entire community of voices, feeling for the first time that this is in me. I am in this. Falling back into my voice, in my ears, in every cell, then silence and the vibration of the singing bowl, resonance. Then for one brief moment in all of time, in this body, I feel the heat and warmth of your energy, of you, in the palm of my upturned right hand.
Joshua Daniel Enzer was born to me on July 3, 1984. He died from complications of diabetes and renal failure on October 15, 2014. “Mischievous, Independent, Beloved Son and Brother, Cherished Family Member, Friend and Mentor, Spirited, Kind, Generous, Joyful, Wise, Beautiful Soul.”