Friday, February 10, 2006

gloria and the buddhist art show

It was reading the story (below) on a listserve yesterday that twigged my memory of the Buddhist seminar (above). I have Gloria’s permission to post her story here, told in her own words. It is a beautiful illustration, I think, of putting into practice some of those “keys” Tom Tan speaks of above:

Well, last night was the Buddhist-display introduction and training where we, at a gallery in which I work, met some of the artists to learn about them and their exhibit. I can't begin to tell you how appreciative I am of your prayers.

How gracious everyone was during the evening although I could not help but discern a certain level of apprehension, surrounded as we, the staff (some who may be churchgoers) were by all the red, by the artifacts, by Buddhism.

Whether the two artists last night were Buddhists I do not really know. But you can imagine, if you can picture it all: there we sat around in a circle munching on the gallery's complimentary gift of foods and drinks, listening all about Tibet, about their prayer flags, about the mantras and devotions, about the nuns' routines, the Dali Lama, about the mountains and the wildlife and the flowers and the chilly, chilly mountain air. Background and ongoing music of Buddhist chants and prayers and devotions infiltrated the empty spaces all around our small gathering as one of the artists spoke to us.

As a Christian, how was I able to show respect?

I used tea and plants, I suppose, and my silver cross hanging from my neck. I'll take you there:

There is a lovely hanging garden of sorts in the gallery and for which I am responsible. Last week end to rearrange the display a little, I changed a few scraggly plants for some fresh ones adding a few little touches of Tibetan flowers and color here and there.

At the last minute I placed in the midst of it all an unlit candle in a glass-and-wooden rustic kind of holder that I use at home for my own prayer time knowing that the Buddhists use the same type (although not having realized this when I bought It.)

I purchased a special Cargo & James blend of herbal green tea, green and mint tea being one of the very favorites of Tibet and, with the help of a few staff members, made a large pot which warmly kept brewing during the hour or so of the gathering.

At the time appropriate, I walked around serving small portions of this special blend to everyone there; mild green tea with its fresh leaves settling at the bottom of each cup. "Of course I don't mind, dear."

I tend to be rather a shy person at the best of times but at this time I became so unlike myself (an iron pillar?) while, at the same time being acutely aware of the importance of what, although beyond what I could understand, was taking place.

My cross around my neck, a delicate but long pendulum of a cross imbedded with a small Tibetan (? I don't know, it was a gift) turquoise stone, swung delicately beside the offering of tea during each serving. As I lowered (bowed?) to offer the small drinks of the green brew to all the seated guests one by one, to the staff and to the artists and to the curator, I began to be so aware of the Holy Spirit touching "all who had entered there." If you can imagine that "lovely spiritual hush" that we have all experienced at the most unexpected of times, it was there. That lovely Spiritual hush.

Thank you for your prayers. I had no doubt that God intended to touch everyone, visitors as well, with Himself during the exhibition.

Jeremiah 1: 17-19
"Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified of them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land . . . They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue you," declares the Lord.

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