Today was my final day sitting a weekend-long meditation retreat; and it was kind of a rough experience. This morning I awoke feeling sad, discouraged, frustrated, just overall ‘down’. 😦 But I made my way to the meditation hall, and settled in for yet another session.
About 30 minutes into the meditation, an old-timey bell began to sound. It sounded like the ringer of a late 1970s-type phone.
The retreat center we were staying at was a good 40 years old, and nearly everything in the place was original, so I figured that the noise we were all hearing was perhaps one of the office phones that someone forgot to take off the hook this morning. I kept my eyes closed, and returned to my breath.
The ringer chimed again, only louder this time.
My mind now became pretty busy trying to piece together the mystery: What is the noise?
The ringer chimed a third time, louder still.
Unable to contain my curiosity, I opened my eyes – and saw the monk sitting at the front of the room, lifting his fabric that was at the foot of the podium on which he sat. A fourth ring later, the monk placed his hand into the sack – and extracted an iPhone.
All of the retreat participant’s eyes were on him, watching. The monk smiled slightly, a bit embarrassed; but then in the very next second he wore a very genuine grin that basically said, “Oh well!” His eyes lit up, his gaze met ours, and his lips parted into a full-on smile. He silenced the phone, slipped it back into his bag, placed the bag back on the floor, put his hands back in his lap, closed his eyes, and resumed meditating – like nothing had happened.
Even monks make mistakes, and get embarrassed; the difference is they accept it, and move on.
This is a terrific example for me to follow; and was a terrific way for me to end my retreat.