We ran the gamut of emotions at Young Urban Zen last night. The group was much as it is most weeks - at least thirty strong, regulars, people who have been coming a few weeks, and brand new people. Often I notice how people get fidgety if they are just listening for the whole hour of discussion, but that definitely didn't happen this time.
After we had sat for thirty minutes together, and introduced ourselves, Shannon gave a very moving way-seeking mind talk, which I won't try to summarise, though perhaps she might on her blog. There was an openness in Shannon's story that invited empathy, which was palpable in the room. Equally moving, though in a different tone, was a field trip report by the Tassajara group - Mike took the floor first, then the other five painted complementary pictures of what it meant for them to be in the valley last week. These stories of cleaning, mental resistance, peacefulness, community, cars and ants were all received with chuckles and close attention. When Mike had told the group at Tassajara how it had been for him, over breakfast on the last morning we were there, it reminded me of what often happens in sesshin, where an initial struggle to settle and be present is followed by a deep open acceptance of whatever is happening.
At the end, amid all the announcements of future activities, Vanessa told us that this would be her last meeting, and thanked us all for making this a community for her over the last six months. It really felt apparent to me last night that we were a strong community, where we can be open with each other, allowing people to feel safe to express themselves and be held by others, and where openness fosters openness, acceptance allows acceptance, and people get to see the value of these practices we take on.