Last week was a very difficult one for both my wife and me. Each of us were feeling hammered down by events and other people's behavior. Some people involved at Sarah's church have been trying to get rid of her; they have settled for making her life awful. Meanwhile, my own state senator seems to view teachers as "government waste" and I am watching my meager earnings for the next calendar year get taken away starting as early as this summer. Meanwhile, the institution where I am completing my licensure is tormenting me in numerous silly and officious ways. Unsurprisingly, we considered the possibility of leaving town altogether.
By the end of the week, I was not feeling well at all, and went home on Thursday downright sick. Yet there was a big event this weekend: the local Zen group was having its first overnight intensive retreat, and Judy, a visiting teacher, was arriving to lead it.
It was a small retreat, after several registrants dropped out. Of the remaining participants, two were senior citizens, one of whom has gout. It was soon clear they were exerting themselves enormously.
Zen retreats are physically demanding, and take a little getting used to. The schedules typically include many hours of sitting and walking meditation; in the Korean style, we also do 108 prostrations each morning. For newcomers, this can be pretty rough, with fatigue and back pain or leg pain testing their commitment at every moment.
These folks were an inspiration: just staying with it, trusting the retreat, giving it all their effort. We modified the schedule a little bit to give them extra rest, but I think they would have been there at the end no matter what.
And that's what the wife and I are doing: staying with it, doing our jobs, trusting our work and its purpose -- because it isn't about us.