This weekend I attended weekend #4 (out of 5) of ZenBodytherapy® Training in California. For those of us reviewing the work, it was yet another incredible way to receive more work, practice zazen and come together in the spirit of growth and health.
One of the highlights of training for me (always) is the opportunity to listen to our teacher, Audrey Nakamura, while she tells us a few stories. This one, that I'd like to share, is about the home of her recently deceased mother in Hawaii.
Each week since her passing, Audrey goes to her mother's home to tend the garden and check on the house. A new family moved in next door to the house a few months ago. Shortly after they moved in, Audrey went to the house and discovered a plethora of beer cans, cigarette butts and other trash spilled onto her mother's yard.
Each week she would quietly and tediously pick up each cigarette butt off her mother's yard and off of the street. This continued for a time. The other neighbors thought she was crazy. "Why are you picking up all their trash? Why don't you yell at them and tell them to stop?" No, no, Audrey replied. I'm just going to clean this up.
So the trash continued until one day, a 20-something youngster from the house saw Audrey, came out and said, what are you doing? You don't need to clean all this! Audrey responded gently..."Do you see this little cigarette butt? It does not disintegrate. All the gunk that went into that filter is still there, and it is not going away."
The following week, there was still a lot of trash, but it lessened. Then another member of the family saw her picking up beer cans from the yard and felt embarrased. The following week there were only 2 cans sitting in her mother's yard. Another teenager looked over the fence and said, I'm so sorry, I'll come right over and get it. "That's okay," said Audrey. "I got it." and she smiled.
In just a few weeks the entire street and space around the new people's home was clean. The other neighbors were shocked. Audrey came again and was pleased. The new family said "Audrey, you must come inside and have some food and sweets." The patriarch of the family told her that he would take care of any heavy lifting around her mother's house. The teens offered to mow the lawn.
Audrey smiled and ate food and sweets with them.
Ironically, it turned out that a few weeks back, one of the other disgruntled neighbors angrily went to the neighbors to complain about the mess. The two families do not speak to each other. Audrey, on the other hand cannot stop by without being welcomed with open arms and treated like part of their family.
Today I went to the grocery store, picked up some lunch and sat outside. My stomach knotted up, there was a cigarette butt sitting on my seat, and trash blowing around the legs of the table. People watched me, a little dismayed while I picked up the butt and all the trash around my feet and walked over to the trash can (just a few feet away). I thought of Audrey and smiled.