Even though i'm no authority of any kind, a humble ordained Zen Priest, and just an modest fool at best, today i want to talk about Smiles.
So please read along.
Some years ago his wife left him and their 2 year old son.
She told him that she just needed time.
He took care of the son and what needed doing and got an apartment with an room of his own for their son.
For the first three months since she left, she hardly had the son at all, except when her parents where present, and he let her have him whenever she wanted.
Suddenly he got an call from her lawyer saying she wanted single custody and that she wanted to move away from town with the kid.
So the process started, with her blaming him for everything, her family, their fríends almost everybody was on some point or another on his back, because he was ”the bad guy”.
They went to the socialservices for investigation, which took an year and a half.
In the final report made by the socialsevices, they used patronizing language when writing about him including him being called a dominant, diminishing, cruel man who didn't let the mum see her child.
All the while she went away for weeks, just to show up and pick up the kid whenever she wanted.
He had him for almost 4/5ths of the time in those two years, she not even coming with to the dentist...
This and much more, along the same lines happened along the way.
He persevered and always did everything he could but you could see the fatigue growing in his eyes.
So came mothers day.
He and their son toiled with a mothersdaycard, the son picked it out and drew it and on mothers day they delivered it to her.
The son got a hug, he didn't even get an glance or an ”hi.”
Later on that day he got an message on his cellphone from her.
Fearing the worst, the usual yelling, which were more common than not, he looked at it.
It said ”thank you”.
When asked how he felt when he got the thank you textmessage, he smiled, and said ”You know, i was getting kind of fatigued, but now? Now i can go on forever.”
This might just be a story i concocted, who knows?
But i'll tell you this, the smile, that was something...
Writing this made me think of the old story about Hakuin and the baby, found for instance in Paul Reps "Zen flesh, Zen bones", but different versions is found all over the internet...
There was a monk named Hakuin who was well respected for his work among the people.
In the village, there lived a young woman, the daughter of the food sellers.The young woman became pregnant by her boy friend who worked nearby in the fish market.When the parents found out about this, they were very angry and pressured her to reveal the name of the father.She wanted to protect the young man and blurted out the name of Hakuin as the father.
After the baby was born, the parents took the baby to Hakuin.They told Hakuin that he was responsible for the baby and left the infant with him.He responded: “Is that so?”And he simply accepted the responsibility for the child without further reaction.
The monk had no experience with babies.But he began to care for its needs, finding food, clothing, and warm shelter.The other villagers became very angry with Hakuin for his offense and his reputation was trashed. These comments did not affect Hakuin, who continued to put his effort and attention into the care of the baby.
After several years, the young woman was filled with remorse.She confessed to her parents the name of the true father.They immediately went to see Hakuin, apologized, and took the baby back with them.Hakuin watched as they returned to there home with the child he had cared for since birth and replied “Is that so?”
Now, you might say that both the stories are sad, and they might be, but they also tell of an great love and compassion.
Both of them took a beating for it, but continued on doing what needed doing, taking care of what needed doing, with, i believe, an allencompassing care, love and compassion and setting an example many would benefit to learn from.
Another thing both these stories tell us is that just because people ”knows” or says something is true doesn't make it so.
And no matter what your reputation is, no matter how much you're put down, it doesn't reflect the real you.
And it might be that the persons involved will never know what really happened, it doesn't matter.
But what you do MATTERS.
And, between you and me, i believe there was an smile on Hakuin's face as they went away, and that smile, that was something ...