If You Love, Love Openly
A Zen koan:
Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.
Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.
Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”
It’s hard to be loved in secret. I realize that more acutely as I watch my friends, a couple I met I college, prepare for the death of one of them. The end of his life is near. She sits by his bedside, holding his hand, even though he sleeps most of the time.
I envy them. Not what they’re going through right now, which is agonizing and heartbreaking. But they are together. They can express their feelings freely to each other in the presence of friends. When they are no longer together, it won’t be by either’s choice. And the one who is left will be able to grieve openly.
Not everyone is so fortunate.