At dusk, an unscheduled detour and stop at the Peace Pagoda in Leverett, a place of calm for a very long time in my life. It is up a steep trail in a clearing in the woods on a hillside. It is a big white Half Egg, now with a functioning Buddhist temple beside it, lit from within the residential quarters and alive with the motion of people making a late meal.
I barreled up the dusty trail, taxing my lung capacity, which left me winded when I reached the top. I then proceeded to a place so that my body and line of sight was center with the first of the golden statues. I prostrated my body. I bowed three times, just as I do before my daily meditation. I surrendered.
And then I wept.
Then I walked. I circumambulated the pagoda, passing each of the four statues twice. I cannot call it a walking meditation, for both my mind and body was speeding, was compelled, was urged in a way that does not belong to the realm of meditation. I observed it all – the heart pounding in my chest, the mind racing, the thoughts of overwhelm, the trueness of grief. I let the coming night, the croaking of the pond frogs, and the companionship of a shining quarter moon remind me that I know this place and it knows me.
I slowed. I settled. I welcomed my inner turtle, as the charge by my beloved teaching pastor, the Reverend Elea Kemler, gave me at my ordination:
Karen, I charge you to Go Slowly. Sometimes. You will maybe not like this part so much but I ask you to find your inner turtle, to let things come in their own time, which will perhaps be a tiny bit slower than you will find ideal.
And as I do at the end of my daily meditation, I prostrated my body again. I bowed three times. This time, in gratitude.