Jean Marie Gunner

Jean Marie Gunner
We are all basically good.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dharma in a Sauce Pan

“We can use our lives, in other words, to wake up to the fact that were not separate:  the energy that causes us to live and be whole and awake and alive is just the energy that creates everything, and were part of that. “

(Pema Chodron, Wisdom of No Escape)


This past Sunday morning I was in the kitchen cleaning dishes and offered to make crepes for my oldest son, Kailen.  He picked up the small saucepan from the stove that was hardened with maple syrup on the bottom.  He handed the pan to me and I began to run warm water into it.  I turned suddenly to stand nose to nose with my 14 year old and I said, “You know that hard encrusted syrup turned to dense sugar on the bottom is just like when a person is angry and irritated with us, they become hard and fixed.  If we open our hearts, feel love moving from our heart into theirs, we are like the warm water I ran into that pan, softening the maple syrup that had turned to hard maple sugar.  We can gently turn someone’s angry temperament from hard to soft with our fluid kindness.”  He said with a sweet smile and a warmth characteristic of him, “Mom, you are weird.”  I knew he got it.

One day this week my youngest son stayed home from school, more a rejuvenation day than a sick day.  It was about reconnecting and spending time together.  We sat in the family room; I was reading a chapter called “Weather and the Four Noble Truths.”  My oldest just informed me this same week that in his Jesuit high school he is learning about Christianity and the Catholic Church in Religion class and Hinduism and Buddhism in his Global Studies.  He called out to me a couple nights ago from the office, “Hey mom, I need to define the Four Noble Truths.” 

So sitting next to my youngest, I was struck by the way he sat still with me, with very little resistance and opened up to listen while I gently read aloud about the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha's first teachings on why we all suffer and how we can reduce our own personal suffering.    

Sitting there, reading, inhaling and exhaling from one moment to the next, I became acutely aware of Aidan’s toes pushing up against my thigh.  It felt reassuring and lulling as he ever so slightly flexed his toes against me.  In those few moments I softened as the bodies of mother and son were raw comfort for each other.  I also realized how much I need to be touched.  In the most visceral way my body remembered his smaller baby body and all the ways we exchanged love through physical touch and need. I vividly recollected his smaller baby body edging into mine, the mother, the provider of life, the sustainer of his existence. 
I finished the chapter, his foot moved over, and the moment was gone. 


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