Sunday, May 04, 2008

Beaming metta in the rain

Yesterday I met up with some friends for lunch in Chinatown. We had sushi of course. They are poly, and I really like her, I did the photography for their wedding a few months ago. They've been very good to me since my sister died, and he's been concerned about my being anti-social, so Thursday, Friday and Saturday I spent some time with him. Its been good for me. After lunch we parted ways. I was pouring rain so they had their car instead of taking the Max home, and I walked toward the Chinese Garden.

I called my sister and we spoke briefly. I've been beaming a lot of metta her way, and I think I must have left it on, because when I got to the Chinese Garden, I noticed people were noticing me. I normally do a good job of being Plain Jane and avoiding notice, so I must have left my energy level turned up like a beacon in order to catch the attention of so many people. The first was a little boy. He was walking along a path and then he just stopped and stared at me. I looked back at him and smiled and still he stared, and then when I spoke to him he walked to a corner and turned it and then peeked back at me. I caught him glancing my way quite often. Shortly thereafter a man asked me a question about a penjing on display, and we got into a conversation about bamboo. Later, two women, same thing.

I had just finished my first walk around the garden and exchanged a few words with a young man wearing a back-pack when I decided to go into the tea house. It being a rainy day, the place was crowded with people, and the windows were thrown open to let in the sights, scents, and fresh air that is so keenly appreciated here in the Pacific Northwest. I went upstairs and while I waited to be seated, I noticed a woman sitting alone at a table. She was one of the three I had seen in wheelchairs at the garden yesterday, and everyone else in the room had company, so I asked her if she would mind if I shared her table. She graciously accepted my self-invitation. We talked for a bit and then my tea and lotus-seed mooncake arrived. She has cerebral palsy and has no fine motor-control, so I hand-fed her bites of the mooncake wedges. Does that sound strange? It seemed very natural at the time, but in retrospect, it is a bit odd that two strangers would sit at a table and establish enough of a rapport that one would allow the other the intimacy of feeding them. She finished her tea and left and I remained for a while, looking out the windows. Its like being in a tree-house, with The Big Pink dominating the skyline like a redwood tree.

I knew there was someone behind me and to my left and after I paid for my tea and turned, I recognized him. The college kid.
"You should have asked if you could join us," I said to him.
"I didn't want to intrude on you and your friend," he responded.
"Oh, I met her just now. I asked her if she wanted to share her table."
His expression was bemused. "Do you come here often?" he asked me.
"Yes, I am a member."
"So am I," he said, "We can have tea next time."
I smiled and nodded and walked downstairs and out into the garden again, to enjoy its beauty and try to capture it on camera. A man was doing walking meditation though the garden, chanting a mantra. I stopped to listen and then turned to smile at him and he stopped for a long moment, looking at me. I held his gaze for a bit and then continued walking the paths, camera in hand. He followed me after that through much of the garden, and I noticed that he would stop in the places I had paused to photograph or just gaze, and then he would move on. Eventually, I finished my second circumnavigation of the garden and wandered out into Chinatown.

Here are some photos. The one with the girl and the lion has an interesting story. I was looking through a window in at a porcelain dragon, when the little girl behind me leaned over the railing to look at the fish. When she did, her reflection draped itself over the lion's head. I snapped the photo and just a moment later she moved. I thought I had missed the shot, but I did not.

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Anonymous SacredTouch said...

A little metta goes a long way.

- SacredTouch

11:05 PM, May 04, 2008  

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