I haven’t been outside much since the pandemic began. My world has been in screen images, almost all conversations, except in brief walks, so sparse with a handful of friends. My writing has been a refuge, and the interior world one I am so accustomed to now. But today, at the request of my partner, I went outside. I needed this. She asked where I would like to go, and I chose the Pao Hua Temple in San Jose. Later we went to a nursery to see all the flowers, walk quietly throughout the grounds, before returning home.
At Pao Hua, which is a beautiful temple, one I have visited several times, there are enormous rooms with beautiful sculptured images, with an almost otherworldly quality. I was so caught of guard when I first visited them years ago, but this time, they were like old friends. I stopped at each one, spent some time, and then sat with my partner in the quiet of the courtyard, which could have been the base of an imaginary mountain, or it’s highest peaks. For a moment, removed from the chaos of the daily tasks, so limited in their scope and view. This was so removed from the world of the last two weeks, the warring images, the violence, no matter how subdued, in so many of the films I have seen.
Now that I’m back I am transformed. My heart has grown deeper, and in some ways, that is compounded by fear, yet tonight I am renewed. I went at great personal cost, being watched all around me, but at the temple this afternoon, I will always remember the one statue I left an offering for, since it was too windy to light each one. It was for Guan Yin, who I will turn to tonight, to rest in for the day, and return to center.