Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dharma of Emily

Today I am in the land of my birth, Kansas City. I am here to celebrate the wedding of Emily Claire Tamblyn to Garrett Alan Gottschalk. Emily is the daughter of my former college roommate, Jeff Tamblyn, and his wife of 30 years, Linda.

What I want to relate in this posting, however, is an event that took place about twenty-five years ago, when Emily was two years old. Around Christmas of 1984/85, I was visiting my parents at their home in Lenexa, Kansas, a suburb of K.C., and Jeff, Linda, Emily, and their newborn daughter, Sophie, dropped by to see us. Emily became bored with the adult conversation, and her folks were distracted by her little sister, so Emily decided to explore around my parent's house. Her exploration included going out the sliding back door to a pool in our backyard.

Being the dead of winter, there was a cover over the pool, and Emily remembers that she thought it was a layer of ice, and she took a step onto it, fully expecting that it would support her weight with no problem. In reality, she slid right into the frigid water, and completely submerged, looked up to see the pool cover replace itself over her head as she sank deeper.

I cannot imagine the terror she must have felt in that moment. A moment later, however, a strong pair of hands reached into the water and pulled her out. It was my father. He was a veteran of having children and grandchildren and knew all too well that a curious two year-old and a pool can lead to disaster, so he had quietly followed Emily out of the house and when he saw the pool cover moving, knew what had happened and acted quickly.

He actually had to remove water from her next to the pool, and when she was breathing normally, he brought her inside. The sight of my father holding this shivering child in obvious shock was electrifying. We rushed to get warm towels and to get her out of her freezing clothes. But she was all right.

Had my father not followed his instincts and gone outside at that moment, or if he had not noticed that the pool had been disturbed, she would most likely have drowned. And so, tomorrow, Emily will be married. I wish my dad were still alive to share this moment with her. 

Such is the dharma of interdependent co-arising: this happens because that happened, and this ceases because that ceases. So many miracles take place in a lifetime, and if one element is missing, the lifetime can cease in a moment. Take a moment, if you will, and contemplate all of the miraculous events that led you to this moment, the culmination of your life.


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful story. Hope the wedding was wonderful.