saturday 25 february 02006 5:00pm
hua zang si

after we left the hospital, we both felt shaken. after a couple of blocks, james said that he wasn’t sure he was ready to drive yet. i suggested that we pull over and walk a bit. just then we drove past this old church in the mission that's been turned into a buddhist temple. big soaring church painted deep red and black, and inside the glass main doors is a big buddha that fills the whole double-doored entryway. there were people entering and exiting the doors, and i said “there! let's go there!”

when we got to the door no one was going in and out any more. we walked in and there was a buddhist nun just inside in shaved head and robes. she gave us to another woman in lavender everyday clothing. i asked if we could look at the buddha for a moment, and she said "oh, yes," and smiled, and made it clear that we should follow her downstairs. we looked at each other and shrugged and followed her. we were a little confused, but it seemed like the thing to do. she led us into a huge chapel. the entire altar was filled with an enormous buddha, perhaps 15 feet tall, seated, eyes closed, golden. shining shining shining.

there was a cushion in front of the buddha, and i began to kneel there. the woman said no, and smiled, and pointed to some other cushions farther back. we asked if we could stay a moment, and the woman said yes, and stepped back a bit. we sat and meditated. we both felt not only back to normal, but deeply peaceful, with astonishing speed. it was strange and beautiful. we returned to the woman and thanked her, and she smiled and made it clear we should now follow her upstairs.

in the main chapel is a 21 foot tall buddha! the community was preparing for an event; there were women sewing and children running about, boxes of offerings. we stayed a moment and then (slightly nervously now!) thanked the woman again. this time she led us back to the front door, offered us some pamphlets, and told us to come again.

hua zang si

the universe is such a mystery. and yet it makes no effort to hide itself.