Last weekend was one of four special annual events in our Taekwondo club. In addition to fall and spring color belt tests, black belt tests are held in Boston twice a year. The first one, in early spring is a pre-examination for the official one the following September. Master D'Amico will either say the student is ready or will request that they wait another year to develop further in certain areas.
I've never been to the Boston tests, but whenever other members of the club return the following week, there is a change in the way they speak and in the way they move. In today's class, lead by one of the red belts that tested this past weekend, I noticed a lower and slower tone in his voice. Something was calmer than before, more peaceful and at ease. It was comforting to simply hear him speak. This seems to be the effect I've noticed after most of the visits to Boston.
And I can understand it to some degree. I've met Master D'Amico, the one who presides over the tests there, only twice but on both occasions I grew a great deal from the few words that he spoke to me. And on both occasions they were words that grew in me over time, that I came to better understand as they helped me grow more aware of myself and even my family. He sees a great deal in the short time that he is with a person.
Perhaps it is like the "pointing out" instruction of Zen masters. Just a few words can incite enlightenment if said in the right way, at the right time. Maybe there is as much wisdom in the master knowing the proper timing and carriage of their words as there is in the words themselves.
That being said, several times the words and ideas of Master D'Amico have been passed on to me and they have been a comfort and a source of growth. Today, the red belt who led class shared several of his words and ideas, including this one that he closed class with: Everyone you meet is your extended family. Everyone you interact with is touched by you and you are touched by them.
And everyone I see in Japan, who seems to be so foreign and unrelated to me, is a part of me. These are my family. It's a comfort to be with them.