Long before we were dharma sisters, Red Sara and I spun through each others’ orbits. Coinciding at Vancouver art happenings, celebrations and demonstrations, we were two red-headed shit disturbers, hell bent for saddle leather. For years, we circled the bike activist world of Vancouver like twin suns. But it wasn’t until I returned from Upaya in 2011, a newly-minted zennie, that we deeply connected. I prodded her back to regular attendance at Mountain Rain Zendo, and together we sparked up ZenYU: Young Urban Zen. We led Bicycle Buddha Rides together, and schemed and joked and cried. We bonded as steadfast creative co-conspirators, and as sisters in the dharma. Spiritual friends it is said are the most precious of all relationships, and I knew when Red Sara and I re-connected that our bond had the power to both rock and steady my world.
Red Sara struggled for some time with the notion of motherhood. She wanted to have a child, but couldn’t conceive. She considered many options but they were not to be. And so she stared reality in the eye and rode forward through disappointment and grief, to set herself free of delusion. A process I very much relate to, in my own journey as a childless woman. I believe among other things that her journey to acceptance of her condition tempered her, made her stronger and more flexible and more ready to receive whatever the trickster Universe might have up its sleeve.
This is what the Universe dished up.
A couple of months ago I got a text from Red Sara, who was visiting with her partner Michael’s family in the States: ‘Life is uncontrollable! Can I call you—now?’ The first thing she said when I answered the phone was, “I have news. I can’t be in your book.” (My book: One in Five: Portraits of Childless Women and their Lives). “Whaaaaaaat??!” I said…”You’re not … ?!?” No, she said…not exactly…not biologically.
The short story is, Michael’s 22-yr-old younger sister (by adoption) was about to have a baby. She was considering her options and was unsure how to proceed. She had decided that possibly the best way to care for her child was to put it up for adoption. And then one day during that family visit, she asked Sara and Michael if they might consider adopting her baby.
Not selfless. Not selfish. Just doing the thing that needs to be done. Like a hand, reaching for a pillow in the night.
After intense reflection, Sara and Michael said Yes. They flew back to Vancouver, and got married in the park by the zendo. Two eagles, the witnessing guests, perched in the tree overhead. Sara drove around Vancouver gathering baby supplies from friends, and from thrift stores and back alleys. They readied their East Van collective house to receive the new tiny housemate. Then they flew back to Virginia in time for the birth. On the 19th of February, Misha Mountain sprang forth.
There followed a flurry of lawyers and immigration specialists and adoption authorities, paperwork and tests and conditions. A court hearing was held, where Misha’s birth-mom officially entrusted him to Sara and Michael’s care. Two weeks ago Red Sara and Michael and Misha flew home to Vancouver where a wide and eager community was waiting to fold Misha into its arms.
I am stoked to go to Vancouver in April to meet my little dharma nephew, and to sew a final stitch in Sara’s rakusu as she takes her jukai. Accepting the precepts, and all that arises. Full warrior style, flying into the wind.
And here is a photo of Red Sara and me, around 2003 (?), riding in a march against the US invasion of Iraq (I think) … note my baby dreadlocks…