Friday, October 24, 2014


What an awesome day! I got to spend several hours with Johnny Arlee this afternoon talking about language, spirituality, and education. Maybe sometime I'll get to share more of our conversation, but for now, I just want to express my gratitude for our meeting today. lemlmtš čoleʔ.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


This was my view of the partial solar eclipse today. 

A Dari Proverb

Yesterday, one of my students wrote: "A teacher is like a candle who burns him/herself to brighten others." When we came back to school this morning, I asked him to explain the origin of this saying. 

He said that teachers are revered in his home country of Afghanistan. As a result, his culture has produced many proverbs and sayings that honor teachers. 

At my request, my student reproduced the saying in its original language. He explained that the Dari language is one of the official languages of Afghanistan, and it is also closely related to Persian. The Dari language uses an Arabic script, even though the two languages are very different. 

One of my favorite parts of working at the college is that I get to meet people from so many different cultures, languages, religions, and beliefs. My students become my teachers, and like the proverb declares, they brighten my world.  

"A teacher is like a candle who burns himself to brighten others." 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


"A teacher is like a candle who burns him/herself to brighten others." 

When our program celebrated the birthday of a fellow teacher this morning, the students decorated the classroom and wrote words of encouragement on the white board. One student wrote: "A teacher is like a candle who burns him/herself to brighten others." 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Minnehaha Park

This fall season has been exceptionally beautiful. Even as the days grow shorter, the colors have been unusually bright. In the past, the fall has often caused me a kind of sadness or depression, perhaps even a certain grief to see the dying days of summer. This year is different. The autumn colors have kept me spellbound.  

Minnehaha Park in northeast Spokane holds some history for my family. When I was in high school, we lived just a few blocks away. But the history is even older: My mother went to school just down the street at Cooper Elementary, and my great grandmother Alice Meier lived in a small house on the same street. I remember visiting her when I was a small child. 

On my father's side, my great grandparents lived nearby in an Indian camp.  

The old stone house was a source of ghost stories when I was a kid. 

The trees have all turned color. 

Minnehaha is connected to a natural area with a network of trails. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Prayer Flags

Today was a bright Sunday morning when I returned to the Buddhist temple to visit friends. As I passed the threshold, Tibetan prayer flags fluttered in the breeze. 

Some years ago, I was impressed by the beauty of Tibetan prayer flags, so I decided to put some up in front of my house. However, at the last moment, I was equally impressed by my lack of understanding. For one thing, I had no idea regarding the underlying spiritual practice associated with prayer flags. I worried that my admiration would turn into cultural appropriation. Furthermore, I didn't know the meaning of the text. Since prayer seemed like a serious thing, I didn't want to send prayers without understanding the meaning. In the end, I decided to not display prayer flags in my home. 

When I see prayer flags, I offer my respect, 
but someday I would like to understand them better. 

After I left the temple, I walked to Corbin Park to see the autumn leaves. I was impressed by the vibrant colors and the sparkling drops of dew on the back of each leaf. Having just reflected on the meaning of the prayer flags, it suddenly occurred to me that the leaves are also a form of prayer. Each leaf enables life flourish and grow. 

Nature is a kind of spirituality that does not require temples,
 rituals, ceremonies, or sacred texts. In fact, nature is the sacred text.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Temple Dedication

My dear friend Francesca has dedicated a portion of her home as a Tibetan Buddhist temple. She lives in an older house with an addition that has been converted into a sanctuary. The house includes a shrine to the Buddha and a large portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 

She asked me to offer a prayer as part of the dedication ceremony, 

Geshe-la, a Buddhist monk from Tibet, conducted the main portion of the ceremony, reading first in Tibetan and then in English.  

The service was deeply ecumenical. Father Connolly, an old family friend, participated in the ceremony.


I was also happy to see Eva. She was teasing me after the ceremony that she only gets to see my pictures when they appear on the internet. Apparently, he daughter retrieves the pictures and shares them with her. As a result, I felt obligated to post this picture to add to her collection. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Belated Birthday Lunch

My sister and I enjoyed a belated birthday lunch at Soulful Soups in downtown Spokane. Apparently, coordinating our schedules is a major ordeal, considering that her birthday was almost a month ago. But regardless of the time that passed, I was glad to finally get a chance to re-connect. The time is never enough. 

My sister persuaded me to try the beer cheese soup. It was a little spicy for my taste, but the basic flavor was amazing. It's strange that the taste of beer is so repulsive to me, but beer used in cooking is quite enjoyable. 


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