There was a guided meditation event at the senior center yesterday afternoon. I was intrigued by the idea, wondering how many senior citizens would be open to the possibilities of “going within.” About 25 people showed up and most were very much engaged with Itzhak, our leader. He set them up in a circle, talked for a bit, then began the meditation portion of his presentation.

It was a lovely meditation. He did some drumming and then took us into a forest, over a bridge, into a cave and face-to-face with an animal. He encouraged us to interact with the animal, give it a gift, receive a gift, ask it what it could teach us. After he brought us “back” to the room, he went around and asked each person to share what he or she had experienced.

What a fascinating array of responses he got! There were those who were indignant and huffy at the fact that they didn’t see an animal. There were those who feared they did something wrong because they didn’t see an animal. And then there were those who saw a llama, a monkey, a cat or felt particularly restful.

Gabriela told a beautiful story of seeing a leopard. It had no gift for her. She had no gift for it. When she asked what it could teach her, it said, “You have everything you need.” She seemed uplifted by that, as was Itzhak. It felt right, knowing what I know about Gabriela. She uses a walker. She looks very frail. But her mind is sharp and there is no treating her like she is frail. She teaches opera. She is very active at the center either facilitating or planning events in the areas of music and literature. She conducts a discussion group on Dante’s Divine Comedy in her home every week. She is bringing in a friend to teach Shakespearean sonnets next month. What a woman.

I shared my experience of seeing a bird. I had no gift to give it. We had no conversation. But as it flew away it dropped a feather in front of me. Itzhak asked me what color the bird was. “White, with some gray and black shadings,” I said. “Ah, white birds represent inspiration,” he said with a smile.

I smiled, too. Irresistably.