Side by Side
Part of the routine at the Buddhist monastery at which I was fortunate to be able to spend a good deal of time consisted of daily walking meditation as a community. During warmer months, we would gather early in the morning; later when temperatures cooled in winter. A common route took us north on the rural stretch of road that bordered the monastery grounds to the east. We would proceed in silence a half mile or so before taking a short break to sit, stand, or stretch quietly. We would then reverse course and unhurriedly make our way up the slight incline that led back to where we began.
On the return trip one morning, I happened to look up and to my left where I noticed one of the monastics with whom I had established a strong bond, a thin Vietnamese man in his mid-twenties, standing off to the side as others passed by. As I neared, it became apparent that he was waiting for me as he smiled and held out his hand. From there, he and I walked side by side, my hand in his. When we came to a stop at the meditation’s end, the young monk turned in my direction, joined the palms of his hands, and bowed gently, saying, “Thank you, Uncle.” And then he turned and walked away.