By Quyen Do
On the third day of our summer retreat at Maple Village outside of Montreal, the mountains around us were enveloped in fog. We woke up in the silence and fresh air, and after hearing the bell, entered the meditation hall for morning sitting. Then the rain started to fall lightly. After a session of sitting, Brother Chan Co led a recitation of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. I felt calm and joyful being with my Sangha as we recited the opening verse three times.
After the closing verse and the sound of the bell, Chan Co smiled and said, "It's raining now." He seemed to feel the Sangha's energy and understand our need for a healing process. As the drops fell, they created music on the meditation hall roof. Through the windows, we saw only the blurred shape of Mt. Foster in eastern Quebec. After a few minutes of listening to the rain, Chan Co asked Carol Gover to sing Sister Annabel's song, "The Rain." Carol's soft voice fell harmoniously with the rain outside, and we listened in mindfulness:
"The rain is falling oh... so softly
Washing every leaf of every tree
Washing every care,
As we listened, some people struggled with pains brought up in the first two days. Some problems seemed immense: one participant's spouse had just received a diagnosis of cancer. Another had been raising a disabled child for 25 years.
"The rain is falling oh... so strong
Reaching every root of every tree
Reaching every root of affliction,
As the song continued, it seemed that the Bodhisattva of Compassion came to the meditation hall, waving her tiny willow branch ti'om which healing drops of compassionate water fell on everyone of us. I was so moved by the moment that all my small anxieties washed away.
"The rain is falling oh... so loudly
Playing the music of joy
For ten thousands of beings,
Carol ended the song softly and total silence reigned in the hall. The raindrops sang on the roof. We sat for a long time, breathing in and out and listening to the rain. Even the bellmaster didn't touch the bell.
I have never participated in such a beautiful recitation. I felt Thay and Sister Annabel as closely as if they were sitting next to us and smiling. We stood up and comforted each other with hugging meditation, then continued the day. After breakfast, we all had joyful expressions on bur faces. In the supportive atmosphere of the Sangha, our individual suffering seemed diluted, dissipating with the rain.
Quyen Do, Chan Huyen, is a co-founder of Maple Village. She lives in Montreal, Canada, where she is a pharmacist.