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The "Broken" Mirror: an exercise in Zen

by James Shammas (Age: 53)
copyright 12-10-2006

Age Rating: 7 +

Today, my seven-year old son, Christopher, slammed the family-room door really hard, shattering the large vertical mirror that was nailed to its back. It was volitional--part of a week-long tirade. (He must be going through something, though exactly what, I can't be sure.) During my drive home from work, I knew his mom would prepare him for my prompt arrival. Wait till your Daddy gets home! But the ten-minute drive seemed much longer as I began to put myself in Chris' place. Would he expect--as I once did--the open backhand, or--worse still--the leather belt? Yeah, the ride home seemed really long, especially coupled with the long gaps I've been learning to sit in: the ones between the in-- and out--breaths (my new Zen fad). When I got home and walked through the door, there was glass everywhere: large pieces, small pieces, little bits and splinters, some jagged and some remarkably round and smooth. Yet I felt I could see each and every one. Christopher was crying, his sister was smirking, and their mother just knelt on the floor, simply shaking her head. But I stood over all of it--the entire scene. Without thinking, I took off my coat and began picking them up. Only then, did the rest join in; and we did it together, without a word, and without a single drop of blood! After that, I talked to my son; I gave him his punishment, along with a hug, both of which he accepted, and both of which we would soon forget, save for the reminder from a small piece of glass I would keep in a drawer and maybe look at many years from now. I would discover--with long looking--that mirrors can't be broken, polished or tarnished; that even the smallest nugget--its inherit nothingness--holds all that's there.

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        04-23-2007     Christina Johnson        

I really like the Broken mirror an exercise in Zen. Broken Mirror is about a seven year old boy named Christopher who breaks a mirror. I really like how it begins and how there's blood on the floor and what happens when his mom and sister finds out this is a good one.

        01-01-2007     Chessie Hodge        

This makes me smile. The situation could've been so much worse. It is nice to see how the spirit of Zen affected it so wonderfully. I would agree with the other commenters. This is a good story with a lesson to be learned for everyone involved.

        12-22-2006     Richard Reed Jr        

I suppose that Zen can be both punishment and compassion -indeed, compassion inside of punishment. I don't know what the punishment was, but the hug went a long way toward defining both of you as compassionate beings.

Truly the spirit of Zen and Christmas.

Wisdom well-written prose. Who could ask for more?

~Happy Holidays my friend~


        12-20-2006     BJ Niktabe        

As I read this, I remembered my own father, and how he dished out the punishment that we brought upon ourselves with the terrible deeds we did as children. It taught us to fear our father's return home from his long workday, on those days when we were in big trouble. Thankfully, we outgrew that fear, maybe it was because we no longer committed those crimes that brought those punishments down on ourselves. But I love this approach. Instead of learning to fear his father, this child has learned to do things to make his father proud. This, in turn, makes him proud of himself as he grows.

This story is a great lesson in life, for parents as well as children! Wonderful!

        12-19-2006     David Pekrul        

Wow! - What lessons can be learned by something as simple as a broken mirror! You handled this situation with wisdom, which I believe brought your family much closer together. This is a very touching piece; short, to the point and well-written.

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