I attended a Zen/ Christian meditation retreat at the Jesuit Spirituality Center and St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana in October of 2016. Grand Coteau is a quiet, but quaint hamlet just north of Lafayette, Louisiana off of Highway 167. Like much of deep southern Louisiana, it has its roots deeply entrenched in Catholicism. The retreat was being led by a Jesuit priest from New York named, ironically, Robert Kennedy. There have been several individuals that have been a spiritual finger pointing me along the way, Fr. Kennedy is one of them. Fr. Kenndy is also a Roshi of Zen Buddhism, having achieved this great honor falling in love with Zen in Japan shortly after his Christian ordination as a priest in the 1950's. Roshi simply means "teacher" or “venerable one” in Japanese, and is isolated neither to Zen, or Buddhism.
The last day of the retreat, we were to rise early and do walking meditation on our own. Though it was mid-October, the weather was cool, but not yet cold. In fact, I was greeted by a foggy and mystical like atmosphere when I sauntered outside at 6:30 in the morning. I had a camera with me and needed to focus on taking my mind and heart off something that was weighing heavily on me, the reality that my second oldest brother, Jay, was about to leave this world after a long battle with melanoma. Jay had been a super-hero to me growing up. He was All-City and All-State in high school football, he had been my Little League baseball coach and as I grew older, my frequent companion at untold restaurants around Houston, Texas. And yet, just a couple hours away to the west, in Beaumont, Texas, he lay in the guest room of my house, ravaged by the one challenge in life he could not overcome. Jay was a spiritual giant; he certainly had a deep faith in God and was a very devout Christian. He had no fear of his impending death, however, I certainly did.
Heroes do not die.
As I made my way throughout the campus of the Jesuit Spirituality Center, I came upon a large cemetery that was bathed in the deeper hues that were being born on the horizon from the east, and an ethereal brume that twisted its way around and through the headstones of the cemetery. I finally came upon the setting of the composition of "Resting Under Redemption." It spoke to me, it moved me, and it made me realize that everything was going to be fine. I allowed myself to cry. The retreat ended around 2:00 PM that day, October 16, 2016. My brother Jay gave up his ghost exactly one month later, November 16, 2016, at the age of 60. There is not a day that passes that I do not think about him or speak to him. I know he is here, and I know he is listening, like he always did.
Grab a camera and tell a story!