By Ruby Pressman
Today, I was sitting outside a church with my friend Christina. “Do you think –” I paused.
“Do I think that God really exists?”
We both laughed.
“No,” I chuckled, “I meant — do you think that life makes any sense?”
“No, are you kidding me?! Of course not!”
I thought she was going the route of Nietzsche, but I wasn’t really sure — trying to find order in the chaos.
Personally, I feel like things tend to make sense in a subtle, intricate way that is not always revealed to us immediately.
We had been eating some pizza from a box on a bench directly across the street from the church, and when Christina was done, she rose up to have a smoke.
Watching her as she began to exhale a few clouds of smoke, she spoke: “I was listening to that guy Thich Nhat Hanh earlier, you know, on recording…”
She took another inhale of smoke and then exhaled, her words flowing freely like waves in the ocean.
“He’s really good. He had a lot of great stuff to say. You know, I’m like the Zen Master.”
I laughed. Christina has a way about her that is very Buddhist or Zen, and seems to have this strong connection to Zen teachings, even though she also has a Christian background.
As someone who is a Jewish, Christian, Buddhist spiritualist, I could totally relate. I continued to sit still and look at her, but then followed up with a question, “What were the teachings about?”
“Oh, he was talking about anger…” She took another inhale and exhaled. “You know, he was talking about how when you’re angry it’s important to acknowledge it. You’ve got to write about it or talk about it, or else it hurts you. It’s like a crying baby and you have to hold it in your arms.”
She told me three affirmations Thich Nhat Hanh recommended for dealing with anger, that went something like this: “Darling, may you be free from anger…” and something else about writing down your upsetting thoughts within a 24-hour time frame. Just get them out, before they start to settle in your mind and body.
She had just finished uttering the third one when the church bells started ringing behind her. Christina crossed herself and we both fell silent for about a minute.
After the church bells concluded their singing, Christina said, “Well you see, there are some people who don’t believe in signs… and there are those who do.”
We both nodded at each other in silent understanding, and then I chimed in with laughter.