Just over a week ago, I was driving a few friends back to Boston after a meditation retreat with Rodney Smith and Narayan Liebenson Grady at the Insight Meditation Society. The first few hours after a silent retreat are often a bit wobbly, if not giddy. One hasn’t talked in a good while. The senses tend to be heightened, and there can easily be a feeling of overwhelm (for a few hours, at any rate).
In the car, my friends and I chatted about our experiences on retreat, the highs and lows, the struggles, the issues, the insights. And soon enough, the short journey back to Boston was over, the luggage on the curb, and I noted a desire to be free again from the demands of conversation –no matter how pleasant. I was also keen to turn on NPR and catch up on all the political dish I had missed.
At first, I didn’t recognize the commentator’s voice, and it took some time for the story to come into focus. But there it was: the massacre of Newtown, CT. Now, as then, I am at a loss for words when confronted by abject, senseless tragedy. In some ways, I find all the talking and debating to be a diversion, a palliative, a way of glancing past the raw pain and implacable grief that the victims’ families are forever seared by.
I don’t intend to add to the noise. But some of you may enjoy a small forum of articles on the tragedy that Tricycle Magazine just published, where leading Buddhist teachers share some reflections.Buddhist Reflections on Newtown.
One of my all-time favorite jazz musicians, Cannonball Adderly, used to introduce a song with these words like the soul preacher he was: “You know, sometimes we’re not prepared for adversity. When it happens, sometimes we’re caught short. We don’t know exactly how to handle it when it comes up. Sometimes we don’t know what to do when adversity takes over… And I have advice for all of us… and it sounds like what you’re supposed to say, when you have that kind of problem…. it’s called Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” Have a listen here: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.
I wish you all a healthy and peaceful holiday season.
Originally published on December 24, 2012