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A tragic-comic opening to the 2011 Practice Period

By: Barbara Byrum | 08/30/2011
Location: Headlands Institute
In Topics:

a tale of intrigue, thievery, masked bandits, and the help of all beings, human and non-human…

A Tragic-Comic Opening to the 2011 Practice Period

At the end of the day, Sunday, August 28th, Norman struck the floor three times with this staff, opening the 2011 practice period. He said that in this practice period we would dedicate ourselves to compassion, kindness, and helping others. Within half an hour we had put these words into action!

After most people had collected their belongings and left, Shari, who is new to our practice, told me her purse was missing. She was distraught, having lost her purse and car keys. She was sure they were gone, having looked everywhere.

I called our Headlands contact person, who in turn called the park rangers. Meg, Alan, Chris, and others surrounded Shari. One offered to drive her home. One was figuring out how to open a locked car. Another was hugging her with heartfelt sympathy and concern.

Another woman discovered that her purse had been knocked over and the contents scattered. That is when my brilliant, incisive, deductive reasoning kicked in. “I bet it was a raccoon!” Then Chris noticed that a cookie was stolen from a basket, and Mary Ann noticed that her vest with a cookie was gone. Shari said, “Oh yeah, there was an apple and a jar of peanut butter in my purse!”

Brad and others started looking under the buildings with flashlights. A woman ranger arrived and shined a flashlight right under the porch where we were standing. And there it was! 
The purse!
Alan ran for and retrieved a lawn rake with a very long handle. (Which begs the question why anyone would travel with a lawn rake!) The ranger got down in the dirt, trying to grab the purse with the rake. She tried and tried, saying, "This guy is really pissing me off!"

Meanwhile the thief – a young raccoon – emerged from an adjacent building. He was even wearing a robber’s mask. It was difficult to say whether he was smirking or curious, but he was definitely remorseless.

So the ranger did retrieve the purse, and there was a great cry of “Hooray” by all of us.

Later Shari wrote us a sweet thank-you email: “I feel so blessed tonight and truly felt what it was like to be on the receiving end of a loving community. If this was my first Dharma lesson – as Norman talked about our having from the moment the circle ended – it was a powerful one! The whole scenario showed me what a loving group of people this is. As a new person, I think I bonded with them during this whole thing, not during the meditation itself. Maybe THAT was the Dharma lesson.”