When I came down for afternoon zazen yesterday, I found a card on my desk, written by someone who doesn't live here and is quite new to practice. It said:
"After reading your blogpost this morning, I wished I weren't practicing buddhism so that I could say things like: all things happen for a reason (rephrasing), or, this too shall pass (avoidance), but I know better than to say things like that to the Ino. Then I thought I'd give you the advice you would give: take refuge in the sangha, but I wonder if the source of your suffering may be the very sangha in which you are supposed to take refuge. So I'm going for what (I hope) is the sure thing for you: chocolate. I hope it brings you some ease".
I haven't eaten the chocolate yet, as the whole package, and the words, were enough (this person guessed right, though). As the day went on yesterday, I articulated my feelings to people as best I could, and felt better for doing so; it is a great treasure of living here that it feels fine to say, when people ask you how you are, I'm having a really crappy time, because people will meet you with that, and in the course of a conversation, do their best to support you. Other readers of the blog guessed at the source of my distress, which saved me having to tell the story again. I felt held and cared for by many people over the course of the day.
I felt again yesterday as well, what a wonderful and radical act it is to sit upright with the chest open, when a part of you wants to curl up and protect yourself. The day ended with the dharma talk, and Kathryn, speaking mainly about her experiences as a hospital chaplain, spoke of how the essential thing is to be able to look people in the eye, when they are suffering or dying, and meet them with love, and that resonated with exactly how I have been articulating and feeling my practice at the moment, which goes beyond temporary emotional suffering and allows a deep peace and joy to be present, even as the suffering still lingers.