My feeling of spiritual disconnection has not really improved since the last time I wrote. Sometimes, I find that flying to China allows me to leave things behind. I remember when I was in college, I had seen a horror movie that gave me, while not quite nightmares, horrific visions. I would have my eyes open in the dark before sleeping and see images from the movie. When I flew to China to study abroad in Beijing, the visions stopped. I joked that the nightmares couldn’t fly as fast as the plane, and they lost me. Have a broken heart that won’t heal? Fly to China. Things just feel different here. Unfortunately, not every aspect of that is positive. It’s hard to pray. It’s hard to remember to pray. I don’t keep up with devotional actions (for lack of a better word) that I used to do regularly. I haven’t even covered my head in over a month. I want to. I think about it. I just don’t get there.
Reading this, I think it sounds like I’m depressed, but I’m really not. Overall, I’m pretty happy. I’ve been meeting people and going out and seeing new places and new things. I like my job. I’m doing well, but one really important part of my life is missing.
A few weeks ago, I went to Hong Kong. It is completely different from where I live. It’s quite beautiful with the mountains very close to the sea, which is one of my favorite geographic features. I said it jokingly, but it wasn’t really a joke – you can see through the air there. Those of you living in America with routinely single or double digit AQI (Air Quality Index) numbers may not understand what it is like to live in a city with an AQI of 159… in October… on a relatively warm day… which means it is going to get a lot worse. In the winter, the AQI can get over 1,000 here. Anyway, back to Hong Kong. I was not just there on vacation, but I did get a chance to visit the Big Buddha,
which is situated next to an active monastery. I loved the area, and I felt very peaceful there, which was a really nice change of pace. Even though I’m not Buddhist, I very much appreciate Buddhist temples in China because they are active worship spaces. Visiting the monastery was very beautiful. There were nuns going about their daily business and signs posted warning visitors to not touch the ritual implements. I remember looking around and thinking, “oh, ok, that’s what you do” at the way they handle visitors while they are praying or doing whatever else it is that they do. It was slightly awkward as I entered temples and made my sort of greetings with someone who prays in the proper fashion, but I was also with someone who was just gawking. I’m sure the three of us made an interesting group had anyone known what they were
I wish we had temples like that for our gods. Public places where priests or other caretakers work regularly, where devotees come to pray and make offerings, even making pilgrimages to do so, and where visitors come to see the beauty of the place and perhaps have an experience or encounter that changes them profoundly.