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. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Walk by the River

After work today, the sun was shining again, and the brilliant fall colors returned for another visit. I took the opportunity to walk on a campus trail that follows the Spokane River. 

Plants near the SCC Greenhouse. 

A flower near the greenhouse. 

The Spokane River just north of the SCC campus. 

The Greene Street Bridge. 

On the banks of the river, I was greeted by the smell of mint. 

Stones in the river. 

Wild flowers still in bloom. 

Golden leaves reflect the sun. 

Fiery leaves amid the deep blue sky. 

The autumn sun. 

Under the Greene Street Bridge. 

The Greene Street Bridge reflected in the Spokane River. 

The Greene Street Bridge reflected in the Spokane River. 

The Max Snyder Building on the northern edge of campus. 


Someone on Facebook posted a picture of fall-colored leaves cut into the shape of hearts. It was kind of a cheesy project, but I made my own leaf-hearts during my lunch break and discovered they were quite beautiful in a sunlit window. Now I'm thinking this would be a fun project, especially if I still had pre-school age children.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Red Leaves

The weather has finally stopped pretending to be summer. The temperature dropped suddenly to an uncomfortable chill. Likewise, the trees have begun look the part of winter as the leaves fall to the ground. Still, the red leaves hold my attention as one season fades into another. 


When I drive home from work, I sometimes pass the old Kaiser plant. For some reason, I find it compelling to see the barren tree branches standing before the monolithic face of industrial brick. On the one hand, the ruins of industrialism are sober reminders of environmental destruction on a massive scale. On the other hand, I sometimes lay awake wondering how these places might be reclaimed and revitalized. 

In the end, the message of the tree might be the assurance that nature will reclaim itself on a non-human time scale. If we're lucky, we might get to help the process. Otherwise, our descendants may be the ones to witness these changes. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Greatest Story of Our Generation

The Greatest Story of Our Generation is an inspirational video narrated by Morgan Freeman that examines the impact of human beings on the environment. It challenges us to consider how we are contributing to the vitality of life on the planet - or not, and it invites us to take action for a healthier tomorrow.

Thanks Tim for posting this video! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Indigenous People's Day

The Native American Student Organization (NASO) at Spokane Community College sponsored a cultural event in honor of Indigenous People's Day, joining a growing number of jurisdictions around the country that have ditched Columbus Day in favor of celebrating indigenous peoples. Both Seattle and Minneapolis made the change this year. 

NASO posted this image around campus to advertise an Indigenous People's Day observance. 

Shonto Pete sang hand drum songs in the student center in honor of indigenous peoples. Both students and staff paused to listen, and many applauded after each song. For me, it was wonderful to hear the sound of traditional songs resonating throughout the school. 

Thank you NASO and Shonto for organizing this event and raising public awareness. 

A detailed view of the poster shows a rejection of Columbus. 

A view of the entire poster. 

The Rocket

Neon signs from inside the Rocket Bakery on Garland. 


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