Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Making Rounds Haibun #5
One of my favorite Zen stories is about the young monk who comes to see his master and tells him that he is going on pilgrimage. The master asks him, “Where are you going?” and the young monk answers, “I don’t know.” The master replies, “not-knowing is most intimate.”
So I’m on the oncology floor, checking my list of patients to see for the morning, trying to remember the stories from yesterday’s visits, anticipating what the conversations might be about this morning. You might say I am setting up what I think the agendas will be for the morning conversations, you might say I am connecting to “knowing mind”, not “not-knowing” mind and so I begin my visits.
First visit dealing with nursing home placement, second visit dealing with news that cancer has returned, third visit feeling miserable with NG tube down her throat and not really up to a visit, fourth visit found sitting before his breakfast tray in tears. I remember he was to get a report back on his bone marrow today, maybe. I sit on the couch and say good morning and wait, anticipating he has gotten some bad news about his bone marrow report. He continues to cry and I continue to wait. Finally he says, “This is not about my sickness. This is the anniversary date of the day my adult daughter came up missing. It has been nine years ago today. She has never been found and we have no idea what happened to her."
This dis-ease I have,
No medicine can cure it.
What I did not know!