This week a very good friend of mine received some awful news about an illness he has. This has caused a lot of anguish and sadness amongst his friends. We have have pondered on how such a good man can have such an awful thing inflicted on him. My friend is a Christian. He has great faith and more importantly acts it out to all without prejudice and with compassion. Consequently, he is also a “much better Buddhist” than I shall ever be in this life.
I have thought long about how other people in my life have become ill and died. I am worried that he might do the same. I worry about his family and how hard that would be on them but most of all I think about losing my friend
We spoke the other day. He told me about working out how to tell people, who to tell, who his wife should tell and who he should and in what order. It seemed to me it was like some dark version of Christmas card writing my parents used to do. He told me of the strength he was finding in his memories of visits to Iona and their community. He had dug out a CD of songs and a book of prayer and stories. I shall be looking these up myself in the next couple of weeks.
I asked him how he was countering the feeling of unfairness the “Why me Lord” question. “Oh I don’t think its bad luck. Its just Biology. I can’t do anything about that. I have to concentrate on what follows on from it.” See I told you my good Christian friend is a good Buddhist too. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact I am sure a good Buddhist would be a good Christian too.
So when I think about accepting things as they come to me in meditation, of not holding on, of letting go precisely and gently, of saying “thinking” when I notice I have moved away from the breath, I can see my good friend doing exactly these things in awful circumstances with great effect. So deep down, I know he is all right – though I am still crying for him