Friday, November 25, 2011

Sands of Time

Much has happened in the last week.  My husband's company shut their doors for good last Friday, and he joined the ranks of Americans struggling to find work and security in these turbulent times.  But, as the universe is wont to do, it sent some monks my way to help me keep perspective.  The Gaden Jangtse Tibetan monks are traveling throughout the country for a year, building medicine sand mandalas and educating us about the ongoing plight of Tibetans who are denied religious freedom in Tibet.

So the monks came to our church and seven of them spent a week building the mandala.  They used small brass tubes and amazing technique which takes 6 years to learn.  We joined them mid-week and Luke pronounced the whole process "awe-inspiring."  Indeed.  On Sunday, they joined our service and it was quite fun to watch our minister metaphysically arm wrestle with the lama for control of the service.  I learned that lamas are pretty good at metaphysical arm wrestling.  At the end of the service, the lama blessed both of my children.  What a gift.

That afternoon, there was a formal ceremony where the monks undo all that they have done in the previous week.  The chanting and music was beautiful, and we all left with some of the sand.  It is quite auspicious for your next life to have the sand placed on your corpse.  I'm in.  Several of my non-Buddhist friends have asked about the meaning of the ceremony...why sweep away such beauty?

The first noble truth of Buddhist theology is that life is suffering....we can't escape it.  Suffering is caused by attachment.  Attachment to a job or a way of life.  It will change and end and you must flow with those changes.  Be in the moment but don't cling to what was.  Scott came over mid-week and watched the mandala being created.  He also joined us for the ending ceremony.  He and his coworkers were doing good work, building solar panels and trying to move the world closer to renewable energy as a viable energy alternative.  It is a great sadness to see that work swept away.  But just as the monks travel on to a new city and create new energy and patterns, so will the engineers/technicians of Evergreen Solar.  Here is to the journey:)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Notes from the Pew

So much to stuff into an entry when you are only writing every other week:)  A few things have happened:  the kids and I got lost on the way to the bookstore to pick up the latest copy in the Ranger Apprentice series, ended up in the projects and the locals threw yellow paint all over the car as we were touring through....I have been deconstructing this event in my mind since it happened.  It threw me.  It threw my kids.  We had to have a tough conversation about class, urban life, violence, parenting, and compassion.  What a suburban tale, really, lost in the projects on the way to the bookstore. 

Then, we went to the Cape and had a wonderful time, frolicking on the beach in the off season.  I have always been drawn to the water when the people leave.  I spent a winter in Gloucester in a summer home, powered by a wood stove just trying to stay warm.  I walked the beach every morning and found such peace.  My partner at the time nearly went insane with the solitude.  Each to their own.

Today, it was back in the saddle, teaching RE.  Our topic was the question "what is prayer?"  Here is what my beautiful class came up with:

Prayer is when you are talking to the don't really get an answer sometimes but
it feels good to keep trying.

Ain't it the truth.

Here is my favorite Buddhist prayer:

May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.

May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

May we be filled with lovingkindness.
May we be well.
May we be peaceful and at ease.
May we be happy.