One day, near the end of my first lengthy stay at the monastery, the afternoon schedule included a coming together of the community for tea to bid farewell to a dear lay friend who would be departing the following morning to return home. Approximately thirty of us gathered in what was the meditation hall at the time. Gifts were offered, kind words were exchanged, and, of course, servings of green tea were poured and passed around to those in attendance.
As was common at such gatherings, we were invited to share expressions of gratitude. Since I had been residing there for some time by then, I wanted to openly convey how much I appreciated the support and kindness that I had received from two monks in particular. As I began to talk, I could feel myself starting to tremble, followed soon thereafter by the cracking of my voice and the onset of tears. Obviously, something about my experience with the young Vietnamese monastics had touched me deeply. Fortunately, I was able to maintain my composure well enough to speak from my heart and honor my intention.
Afterwards, while helping to clean up in the kitchen, I happened to make eye contact with one of the nuns whom I had come to know reasonably well. Still feeling quite self-conscious about my earlier display of emotion, I mentally grasped for something to say, a bit of small talk to relieve my discomfort. As it turned out, there was no need. “You’re blooming like a flower,” she gently reassured me. Enough said.