This is the stone,

drenched with rain

that points the way.

~ Santoka (20th century Japanese poet)

Probably it is just me, but the unending barrage of numbing news ~ the latest shooting disaster, political disaster, abuse disaster, natural disaster ~ is all conspiring to make me colder, harder, smaller. I feel a dry, protective

crust forming, at times. And then, a poem of a wet stone comes along. Recently, visiting this poem I felt a warm wave pouring over me: Every bit the stone, I was drenched with rain, stumbling forward in this insane world, using the rock as a compass.

Recently I was having lunch with a friend, a fellow teacher, and we carried out an exercise of role-playing (yes, teachers practice too). He suggested, “Tell me that your mother just died.” And I said, “My mother just died.” As I said that, I was surprised as tears welled in my eyes. He asked, “How are you doing with it?’ It has been nine years since she passed. It was a good death, with all her six children around her. Before we cancelled her phone account, several times I called her home number just to hear the recording of her voice: “ Hi, this is Carol. I am not home right now. Please leave me a message ” Driving down the road sometimes I still occasionally think to call her and then realize there will be no one on the other end.

Drenched in rain. This is the stone that points the way. As a young child, I thought my parents could fix things, and then I found out they couldn’t. As a young man, I thought a right government could fix things, and then I found either they couldn’t or wouldn’t. As an older man, I see that the responsibility now rests with me. But I also see increasingly that the world is drenched with rain, and it’s the rain does most of the fixing.