An Unexpected Friend At Our Awakin Circle
Posted by Neeti S W on Jul 10, 2017
As is my regular practice, I finish up cooking in the first half of the day, then tidy up the kitchen, and close with the rest of the daily chores. On this day, 10 people had RSVP'd and everything was planned accordingly.
Then, at 4PM, I got a call from an attendee saying that he 7 visitors from Chandigarh are coming! I was suddenly flustered -- what to do now? It's already past 4PM and I'm not sure how to cook for 7 more people. As I try to be still, my neighbor Chumiki (also a regular at Awakin) calls for some small issue and asks, "Can I make pulav (a rice dish) for the evening?" It was as if the universe was listening in. I tell her yes, with the additional head count.
Our circle begins with an hour of silence. As we open our eyes, our room is full with many unfamiliar (yet familiar) faces that silently tip toed in throughout the hour. We read the passage, Enlightenment is Intimacy with All Things, in English and Hindi and our sharing starts. As the talking stick passes, each one shares for a little bit. Until the stick arrives at the hands of first-time guest, who seems to be about 25 years old.
He slowly takes a deep breath and looks at each one of us intensely and starts his sharing, "I am new here, and I don’t really know how I reached here. But today, after sitting in silence for an hour, I feel like I've entered a safe space. I want to share some things that have been bottled up inside me for many years. I'd never shared this with anybody before."
With a lot of sincerity, he continued. "I lost my mother when I was 4 hours old, right after I was born. I don't have a father either. He's alive but he's an assasin, so I've erased him from my memory. I dropped out of school, became a womanizer, and a drug addict. You name a drug and I've done it. Sometimes I've even had food from trash can that a dog would eat from. If I look at my life, I have a stock of everything that fits in a devil's syllabus."
After sharing some more details, he adds, "I wonder what makes you all trust a person like me at this gathering, how somebody can trust and open doors for someone who is carrying so much burden of his past garbage."
Room is in stunned silence now. As the host, I feel like I had to do something but wasn't sure what. I quietly prayed to my inspirations, that I'm guided to do the right thing. Suddenly, I hear myself saying, "Let's hold a minute of silence holding each other’s hands."
It felt like a very long minute. I could hear a silent chorus emanating from every heart in the circle, "Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu." (May all creation abide in deep peace.)
Unstoppable tears flowed from this young man's eyes for the rest of the session.
As soon as the sharing ended and just before the circle broke for dinner, everyone lined up to give him an individual hug. For the rest of the evening, his cup overflowing with gratitude for each one.
I'm reminded of a quote Sheetal often shares, "We're all walking each other home."