Hail Columbia

reflectin pool

I think I will call 2013 the year of Moving.    I’ve moved houses, I’ve moved children, and I’ve traveled for six weeks.  I need to just sit for a little while. The latest children moving included a two week odyssey trip in the old green van to move Alexandra into a dorm in NYC for a semester.   Seems like an extreme amount of time for an 11 hour drive but my daughters and I decided while we are headed north we should see everything on the way.

After some beach time with cousins in New Jersey we back tracked to Washington DC.  Although we had stopped there briefly in the past we had a bigger agenda and so took my cousin up on her offer to stay in her townhouse within sight of the Capital Dome.

I always thought that Washington was a truly beautiful city and the good weather and deep blue skies made the white buildings and monuments even more stunning.   Together or separately we visited nine museums and several monuments in three days.

Always in search of the sacred I was on the lookout for things that give me extra joy.  I love Julia Child’s kitchen and the locomotive my Uncle once drove now on exhibit in the American History Museum.   The National Gallery of Art has a special exhibit of costumes and film clips of Ballet Russe.    The Library of Congress has Thomas Jefferson’s library and a stunning mosaic of Minerva (Athena) goddess of Wisdom.

The last day we split up so that everyone could spend time with their favorites.   Caroline went to the new NPR headquarters, Alexandra biked around the monuments and I went to the Freer museum to see the Asia art.   I wanted to spend time with the Buddha.   This little gem of a museum is tucked away from the larger crowds and was the perfect place of some peace.   I quietly wandered by myself taking in the exquisite beauty of a culture whose art is devoted to higher consciousness.  I spent a long time in a room full of Bodhisattvas, beings who come back to Earth after Enlightenment just to help others.   With no one else in the room I could take in their tranquility and love.

The last place I visited was the new Native American museum; I didn’t have much time so I spent it learning about the Universe through the eyes of different native cultures; the stories, the art, the ceremonies that helped make sense of human origins.    In the giant lobby is a prism that casts rainbows on the floor.   The children took great delight in standing on magical light.

I easily ignored the current politics of Washington DC and only focused on the Smithsonians which documents the truly amazing things humans have accomplished in art, music, architecture, innovations, ideas and experiences.   I also honored the sacrifices of so many at the monuments.   It is a city full of great temples, wisdom and beauty.  Now if our leaders could put aside their egos and remember.

train

lincoln

Bodhisattva

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Quan Yin

Quan Yin

Quan Yin in my garden

 

During the early 1960’s my husband’s family spent several years in Bangkok Thailand as medical missionaries.   Out of that experience came many exotic stories from a land far from Tennessee.   One story is particularly legendary, the family was visiting a different exotic location and in the hotel lobby was a sign that said “Fresh Girls from Bangkok”.   To use those words to describe the world’s oldest profession was definitely a new experience and so the story was told many times.

Many years later as a birthday joke my friend Jane gave my father-in-law a cement lawn ornament of a “Fresh Girl from Bangkok”.   So the girl from Bangkok took up residence in the side yard and has been there for the last 25 years.

A couple of months ago my friend Mary was visiting and saw “Fresh Girl” and said “I love your Quan Yin”.   What?  Quan Yin the goddess of compassion?   I had long studied and loved Quan Yin and she had been on my personal altar for years but I was so indoctrinated in the family story that I never saw that the Goddess had been with me for so long.    My very conservative Christian family had actually been protected by the Goddess all of those years and we only saw her as a prostitute.

I now love Quan Yin more than ever for being there even when I couldn’t recognize her.   Much like the false story of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute, the truth was hiding in plain sight.   The Goddess was waiting patiently for me  until I was finally ready to see her.  She didn’t mind the heat and the cold or the name calling.   Her job was to be there holding love and compassion on this special place.

I look back on the events of the last three decades and see how slowly, slowly things were being set in place for this new phase of my life.   I bless Quan Yin for her protection and guidance all those many years.   The Goddess has been with me all along and I didn’t even realize it.   Her reputation has been restored and she has an honored place in my garden and my heart.