An image of the Buddha is carved into a banyan tree at Wat Mahathat in Thailand. (photo: McKay Savage/Flickr, cc by 2.0)
The name Buddha means “awakened one.” This is the story of how a young man became the Buddha. As with all ancient tales, we can’t know what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken metaphorically. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m inspired by his story either way.
In addition to providing me with a least a decade’s worth of entertainment, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has also given me a fresh and hopefully meaningful way to explain my not-always-easy-to explain religion to others. And given that practically half the world has either read or seen the last installment of this epic series, I feel comfortable doing so without fear of spoiling the ending.
But first a little background…
Rose triangle bead quilt (photo: Carson Too)
If there is one tangible object that represents my mother, it would be a quilt. She spent my childhood making beautiful patterns: lone stars, flying geese, double wedding rings. Each stitch was exactly even and the corners of the fabric joined together just right.
She was a perfectionist, my mother, and at times was a little too hard on us. I tried to be the daughter she thought I should be. And I never smiled right in pictures. But to my mother, if things were perfect, she could love.
I now know this fear was a sign of deeper hurt and that she longed for love in ways her own mother couldn’t provide. But I have these quilts, these beautiful transitional objects, and they remind me of her.
By acknowledging our shared humanity, we can begin to build bridges, friendships, and relationships — and heal past memories and create new ones.
“The Platform of Surrender” (photo: Anna Gay/Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
While going through the process of divorcing my husband, living as a single mother with my daughter, working full time in a classroom for severely physically and cognitively disabled children, and going to college full time in the evenings, I began to ponder what true love is. It was during this time that I had the following experience with a wonderful lady, Ms. Fran.
There’s spirituality thriving in our houses of worship, often unnoticed and unappreciated. It flourishes in the ordinary give-and-take of congregational life, in person-to-person exchanges that Jewish thinker Martin Buber called I-Thou. And we would do well to better recognize this very common and accessible spiritual opportunity.