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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 29 ONE WEEKEND this past summer I went to: an eighth-grade graduation (my grandson Nathan’s), the wedding of the daughter of good friends of mine, a memorial service for my close friend Martha, another memorial service for my longtime neighbor Richard, and a wedding of friends, contemporaries of ours, at which I was the officiator. During this weekend of rituals, I often felt touched by how steadfastly celebratory human be- ings are, how we mark special moments in our lives. No matter that we all come and go, each of us one life among billions, we keep saying, “This person is important to me, this moment is important to me.” Each ritual was moving in its own way. I loved seeing photos of Richard jumping his horse in a competition forty years ago, looking like a young, handsome version of the Richard I knew at the end of his life. I loved that the young couple being mar- ried had living grandparents who could be present at the ceremony. I was touched by the choice of music—the soloist sang “At Last”—at the wedding of my middle- aged friends. At the memorial service for Martha, held at the home she shared with Joelle, each guest chose one of Martha’s framed photographs—there were dozens arranged on the walls like a curated museum show—to take home. I picked the Eiffel Tower reflected in a puddle in a Paris street. Although a grade school graduation is, on the face of it, not as momentous as the other rituals, I found myself weep- ing, perhaps because there were so many people there, each celebrating a different person. Hearing “Pomp and Circum- stance” and seeing everyone in the audience, including me, craning their neck, scanning the moving line of graduates, looking for “their” person—the ritual overwhelmed me with its sweetness. “Look, there is Nathan,” Trish said, spot- ting him far away at the other end of the quad. “He is the one with all the hair!” My mind flashed on the possibility of guessing the number—it would be very large—of parent/ teacher conferences, applications for Girl Scout camp, den- tist appointments, midnight trips to the emergency room, and last-minute shoebox dioramas for history projects that the audience had, collectively, under its belt. Also, I thought about the fact that some of these apparently healthy and mostly smiling fourteen-year-olds would not have the wonderful time in high school the valedictorian would soon tell them about. I thought about how some of them would thrive and some of them would struggle. I imagined the accidents and illnesses and other unexpected misfortunes that befall people, and felt—with disturbing alarm that, I think, may have accounted for the tears—how the life of any of these youngsters, victorious on this evening in cap and gown taking photos with their parents, could be radically different tomor- row. It was as if I were saddened, of behalf of myself and every- one else there, in anticipation of future disappointments. Many years ago, as I was describing to my meditation teacher what felt like a newly profound awareness of tempo- rality, I said, “It is so sad. The end of everything is in its begin- ning. Nothing lasts.” Not Just Marking Time By participating in rituals that mark life’s passages, says SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, we acknowledge impermanence. And in accepting impermanence, we are reminded to be kind. ILLUSTRATIONBYMISSYCHIMOVITZ ➢ FOUNDATION FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE MAHAYANA TRADITION Study at home with FPMT Discovering Buddhism at Home Transform your mind, transform your life, with this comprehensive package of study and practice. Teachings and guided meditations led by senior Western teachers provided on audio CD. Readings and transcripts on text CD. Basic Program Homestudy Engage in intensive study at a post- introductory level of a comprehensive selection of texts from within the Gelug monastic tradition. Presented in 9 modules taught primarily by Tibetan geshes on DVD. Six subjects now available. Masters Program Study Materials Immerse yourself in the fine points of advanced Buddhist philosophy and training. Complete transcripts of five subjects spanning seven years of teachings provided on text CD. One subject now available. Many teachers, one family. email@example.com www.fpmt.org/shop 1 (503) 808-1588, x106