i was in meditation with some brothers and sisters. the room was warmed by a large gas heater in one corner. about ten of us sat around a bench with some books on it. under yellow light. the serenity prayer carved on a slab of wood and hung from the ceiling, for all to see. some junkie’s dad carved it out. as a labor of love to the group that helped his son. outside the sun was gonna rise. there was a sound of a faraway train. there was a sound of metal scraping into concrete above us, as a car was driven into a guardrail on the highway, a block away. someone in the apartment building next door was ordering pajamagrams for her whole family and their pets, for xmas. she was drunk.
after the meditation, we were guided into a pleasant open sharing into silence. of your own volition. one guy who was evidently struggling with his disease, spoke up. i saw the fatigue in his eyes and face and posture. he was sitting up but his body succumbing to gravity. and his mind succumbing, to the gravity of his situation. a marriage on the rocks. and that was not the only thing on the rocks. he told his tough luck story and we listened. he made an analogy to getting in the ring with the champion of the world, getting beat down, then coming back for more. again and again. his wife was sick of him. she kicked him out, again and again. she was tired of the whole thing. you think? the guy sitting next to me said aloud with a chuckle. the man went on with his story.
outside afterwards, we were standing and talking about opening the heart to one another. how it could be hard, when trust was broken. and impossible, if you could not trust yourself. the man who had shared walked out and past us in a hurry. i got his attention and said goodbye, it was nice to see you . he said goodbye and turned and walked away. the man who had been sitting next to me, was now standing beside me. he said nothing. then, suddenly, the troubled man came back with his coffee and a finger pointed at my friend. he began to curse him out, for what he took as an insult earlier in the meeting.
the troubled man threw his coffee in my friend’s face, and some got on me, too. my friend was a big man. he got really angry and decided to throw down, despite my pleading against any violence. the two were determined to fight! they took off their coats and put up their dukes. doing that old-fashioned fists in the air rotating around thing, and locked in the step work, too. i was about to get between them, still shouting for calm, when the smaller guy rushed my friend, who fell back on the concrete and hit his head. he quickly got up and exchange a few blows. i ran into the meeting room to get the others, and they all came out and made some noise, and the troubled guy walked away, even more troubled than before.
my friend, he looked unhappy. i asked him if he was okay. he was sad, he said, because he lost the fight. but it was clear to all of us around, that no one had won any fight. the meditation lent clarity to things which otherwise may not have been so clear. those who had meditated appeared full of vitality and joyful, all of them. those who had meditated and then fought, were not.