Crone Chronicles, Summer 2000, No. 43, p. 49, 51.
Getting on the subway train, not paying any attention, after a seven day meditation retreat upstate, not expecting anything out of the ordinary -- all of a sudden I am aware of a flurry of openings to other people all around me. So quick these are that I miss them. Each is a momentary glitter of connection that flashes and is gone. On the surface it seems it's only individuals turning, one after another, to check out a newcomer stepping into the subway car. But I am struck with the felt sense something much deeper is at work. I feel penetrated right down to the bottom of who I am with a flurry of interconnections. And then, my attention brought forward in time, I witness it happen one last time with a black woman -- middle aged, seated across from me -- the sort of person I would never presume to find anything in common with. Something between her and me flashed wide open for a brief instant, like the shutter of a camera -- "click". It was wide open, then it was gone. There was hardly enough time to see what it was -- I would have missed it entirely had my attention not been alerted by what went before.
And I did miss it anyway, because it was too quick, and too complete an opening, really, between two people to "catch". There flashed through me an awareness of seeing completely and being completely seen, of knowing completely and being completely known. I looked up at this stranger. I can't say whether she noticed what happened. And I can't say she didn't. Very likely she was a simpler person -- a cleaning lady on her way to or from work -- and maybe this sort of thing happened with her as a matter of course. For the first time it struck me that it was fully possible there were people who went through life like this, so utterly connected with those around them that they never imagined it could be otherwise with anybody. I realized what a rich life they must have and how impoverished in comparison was a life lacking this simplest and most readily-available of commodities. For the two of us found ourselves so deliciously close in that instant, so naked to each other, so completely exposed -- that I could say what happened was an act of intimacy. What a delicious wash to be so sweetly delivered into the bosom of another person like that and known and exposed and bonded-with so utterly and so completely that not even a stray tentacle of being or a subsidiary process of psychology went unmet, unanswered, unacknowledged. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone.
I was out of the subway already and walking down the avenue. I wasn't exactly thinking about what happened. As I turned the corner onto my street I saw a sight that arrested me for some reason. There was a little boy about two years old pressed close up against a building and walking along the wall like he was somehow attached to it. I stopped in my tracks and regarded the fascinating sight of such a tiny little thing taking in the feel, in his own way, with his whole body, of the big brick structure, the solidity of it, the rectilinearity, the brickness, the size and dimension. I stood there amazed and that's when I noticed the child's mother, who was also standing there watching, equally amazed. "Why is he doing that?" I found myself uttering to her. The look she gave me back with her beaming eyes confirmed that I had expressed her very thought.
The child looked up at me now. He turned and saw me in the same way the woman in the subway had. He held up his hand to show me his half-eaten cookie. It was a big cookie that he obviously had been working on for some time and he had it pretty well whittled away by now. It was too big of a cookie, really, for a little boy like him and so he had finished eating what he wanted of it and was holding it rather as something fond that had given him pleasure and so was a cherished thing.
"Look at that nice cookie he's got!" I said to his mother, who still hadn't said a word to me but was flashing the same eyes as the little boy's. Leaving the brick wall that had fascinated him, the child turned to me. Some sort of conversation was struck up between us two that didn't involve words, although I found myself using words to translate it, speaking to the mother. The child, for his part, seemed pleased enough with my translation and responded to the tones of my voice with his eyes. He smiled and came right over to me. He reached up his soft little hand and placed it trustingly in mine. Thus joined, the two of us set out walking down the street together. The child's mother followed along beside us, as enraptured as I was by the child's sweet trust. For my part, not having any children of my own, I was awash in the delight of that small hand clasping mine. When we came to my building, I bade the two farewell. The sweet boy waved good-bye. I turned and mounted the steps.
I had come home.