Going back home. My earliest recollections stem from my childhood residence on the ground floor of a sizeable house in New Haven, Connecticut. I vividly remember the layout of the house, particularly the raw wood harpsichord in the dining room. My father would invest hours crafting his unique jazz music on that instrument. I also recall my mother’s cascading blonde hair and a brass necklace that never seemed to leave her neck. Our household in the 70’s, though ordinary in many respects, had a unique feature: a Zen Center located upstairs.
My father, hailing from the Midwest, was a student of Zen, learning from the master Seungsahn, who fortuitously lived right above us. I remember the scent of sandalwood incense permeating down the staircase near my room, coupled with the deep, resonating chants that would abruptly fall into silence. On one adventurous trip upstairs, I met the Zen master, a man who exuded luminosity and had a soft, gentle face. He possessed an endless well of patience for a curious three-year-old intruding on his sacred space.
Years later, while journeying from Boston back to Toronto, my wife and I had a spontaneous idea to visit my old home in Connecticut. Spotting the house was a breeze, thanks to its location on the small hill of Mansfield St and the large rustic sign in the front yard, declaring it the New Haven Zen Center. On a warm April day, we wandered around the property, capturing photographs of the house which hadn’t changed much since 1978. As we were leaving, we crossed paths with a woman who lived in the house. After sharing my stories of living beneath the Zen center and experiences with the Zen master, she invited us in.
Walking through the back door into the kitchen, I found that while the cabinets were repainted and the countertop replaced, the house felt just as it did in my memories. The lady even offered to show us the Zen Center upstairs, which we gladly accepted. Stepping into the main hall of the Zen Center, I felt the unique energy that only years of devoted practice can infuse into a space. I imagined the profound realizations and insights that people must have discovered during their deep meditations here.
After the tour, I shared with our host about my work as a healer of people with concussions and emotional trauma, a path that started with my introduction to Zen as a child. As we prepared to leave, she recommended a local restaurant for us to try.
Returning to our car, we found it malfunctioning, with hazard warnings illuminating the dashboard. A local Mazda dealership, 17 kilometers away, agreed to inspect our vehicle. The issue? An accumulation of plastic bags had been sucked into the engine, obstructing the O2 sensors. After the bags were removed, we resumed our journey home to Canada.
In retrospect, we realized the synchronicity that led us to visit my childhood home had perhaps saved us from a potential roadside disaster later on. The incident affirmed my faith in the flow of synchronicity, reminding me to always trust the whisperings of the guides and angels in our lives. The visit was a cherished journey down memory lane, letting me revisit the place where my life began and helping me reconnect with memories that, four decades later, seemed almost elusive.