Last Thursday, like most mornings, I drove my two children to school. Upon arriving, my son Peter jumped out, grabbed his belongings and ran across the road, bounding up the stairs to school. Emily, on the other hand, sat quietly in the car. I looked at her and asked, "What's wrong?" She replied, "I don't want to go to school." I said, "Okay. You don't have to." She said, "Really." I then asked, "Why don't you want to go" and she shared, "I miss you, you have been so busy with your exhibit and with all that is going on with Nana (my mom is very ill)." I told her I would be delighted to spend the day with her.
Now, Emily is not typically like this. She is a very responsible and rule abiding young woman. So, what I heard was from her heart and I paid attention. I then said, "Before you decide to stay home, let me tell you how I plan to spend my day and see if that sounds okay to you." I then told her about a Peace Walk in Muir Woods that I planned to attend with a lovely woman, Elana from Israel. The walk started at 9am in Muir Woods, and we would walk in silence for 2 hours. I explained a little about Thich Nhat Hahn and walking meditation. She said she was okay with that. I was very touched, and a bit surprised. I brought her homework to her teacher, and her teachers response was, "You are a great mother." The 8th grade class is studying revolution and this is a beautiful example of turning Emily's day upside down. The teacher asked me to relate to Emily to please think about how this day is like a revolution.
We arrive at Muir Woods at the appointed hour. No one seems to be gathering for the walk. About 9:15 am a woman approaches us and asks if we are here for the Peace Walk. We said yes, we introduce ourselves. Shortly two other woman approach with Elana. We are a small group, and we talk about how interesting this is, as most groups tend to be large with 40-50 people. We begin in a circle and introduce ourselves. Everyone is touched to have Emily in the circle, and Elana shares how Emily represents the future. As we walk through the main gate of the park to be with the giant redwoods, Emily gently places her arm under mine, so that we are walking arm and arm. I can't tell you how sweet that moment was, and we walked for the next hour plus arm in arm. The steps were slow and deliberate, and soon we synchronized into a beautiful slow cadence. If you can believe this, there was so much noise. There was construction going on to repair the path and fences, and the tourists were plentiful. By being present, the noise was not a distraction from our meditation. We all walked behind Elana so that she could set the pace, and we walked as one. At the end, we gathered for a circle of sharing. Elana was taken by Emily's sharing. She said, "I heard many foreign languages, and I realized we all come from different places, but we are all connected."
It was a magical day that I will hold in my heart forever.