Classes do seem to be different during times of social unrest and tragedy. I've noticed this for 41 years. Earthquakes, Floods, Stock Market crashes, 9/11, the Tree of Life Synagogue. Usually the classes are much bigger. I think people appreciate a place they can just be with others, to feel positive about themselves, their community and their Way. These types of environments offer that. Breathe in breathe out. Move. Grieve. Transform rage and confusion. Even laugh.
During Luohan last night I was remembering a particularly brutal hike along the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage. I didn't expect it; I thought the day before was the hardest, but this one was much more difficult. On this particular hike, there are 33 Bodhisattvas spaced at various intervals along the 10 miles. At first they are fun and historically interesting but as the day progressed and difficulty increased, they became touchstones. "If I can just make it to the next one." I would say to myself. And then I would. They were little saviors, really, true to their namesake. It was powerful to realize they have been their for centuries, motivating and saving all manner and number of Pilgrims.
In class last night I recognized that our practices are like this for us too, touchstones and salvation Kannons, especially in times of deep strife and confusion, when the hike of living is much harder than we expected. When it is, we come to the practice hall. We see our companions. We breathe in and breathe out. We feel the centuries of others and the Bodhisattvas along the Way, we become those others will feel centuries from now.