The "Broken" Mirror: an exercise in Zen
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.