After zazen on Friday nights, those who wished could go upstairs for tea and conversation. We would sit in a circle with cups in our hands and the two designated servers would go around pouring each person's tea.

On this particular Friday. Soen was there. He sat at 12 o'clock and I happened to be sitting at 6 o'clock. Both servers began at 6 o'clock and started working their way around the two sides of the circle. Soen was such a humble monk and almost never asked anything of anyone. To pour his tea felt like an honor and a small way of repaying some of all he gave to us.

As each server went around their side. I realized that they would both reach Soen at about the same time. One would get to serve him and one would be disappointed, I thought. In a split second after receiving tea from the first server and clearly without time to think, Soen turned his body to the other side to accept tea from the second server.

This example of grace, clear awareness, and deep compassion has been before me for these many years and is a cherished memory of my dear teacher.


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