Aging & Dying, Non Moms, Politics & Activism, Zen & Dharma

My dharma nephew Misha Mountain

Misha Mountain Ross SchmittThis is Misha Mountain Ross Schmitt, my new dharma nephew. His mom is my dharma sister, Red Sara Ross. Misha entered into the world in a brave and unorthodox way— a bicycle buddha baby for sure.

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. Together with their housemates they readied their East Van collective home to receive the tiny new housemate. Then they flew back to Virginia in time for the birth. On the 19th of February, Misha Mountain was born.

There followed a flurry of lawyers and immigration specialists and adoption authorities, paperwork and tests, parenting courses 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…




3 Comments on “My dharma nephew Misha Mountain

  1. What a lovely story, I love the idea of sharing children . What do you think when you hear people declare that they won’t have children as the world is overpopulated already ? Is this really a valid response ? Or is there some other agenda going on . Personally my offspring haven’t come up with anything yet, in my meditation group grandchildren keep popping up for others , still mustn’t grumble .

  2. You’re right: there’s some othetr agenda going on. I think anyone who says they ‘won’t have children because the world is overpopulated’ is in some kind of denial. They do have their own reasons, and those reasons are entirely valid. But they don’t want to examine them. It is an after-the-fact rationalization. No one who really wanted to parent a child has ever declined to do so for that reason alone.

    But if a person decides to adopt rather than conceive their own child (for whatever reason, including global concerns), I say, kudos! That is truly walking the talk and acting above and beyond the biological imperative, in true service to self and the world. Not selfless, not selfish. Just a hand, reaching for a pillow in the night.

  3. Wow! Beautiful! It would be a bigger WOW if you could see this baby grow frequently. Babies know are smarter than we are. Trust me on this. They possess some strange, astounding intelligence and are soooo “in the moment.” I once watched my 10-month old granddaughter cleaning the lint from between her toes for 3.5 minutes. So Zen. I videotaped it.

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