We both arrived in the waiting room around the same time for a test that required us to sit for two hours as they intermittently took our blood. After half an hour sitting reading in silence she asked me, “Do you mind me asking what that is around your neck? I am curious.”

I explained the significance of the kesa and then I asked her what she thought it might be when she first saw it.

“Something religious ….because I am a Catholic and the embroidery reminded me of the embroidered candles children have on a sash for one of our rituals.”

We fell into easy conversation and asked questions about each other’s faith. There was curiosity and connection. It was a lovely way to pass the time.

She explained that she attends a local church but feels saddened that most of her local  congregation are older generation- the youth are just not attracted to whats on offer.

It was poignant when she talked about a visit she had made to the Vatican. She was distressed and deeply dissolusioned  by the wealth displayed in the Vatican museums. Her sense of a powerful Vatican hierarchy that was out of touch with the important aspects of Christianity was strong. But her face lit up when she talked about her work as a teacher of with teenage boys at a Christian school and also the qualities of simplicity, humility and kindness she felt were exemplified in Jesus’ life.

So this is where we ‘met’ at a place of understanding about the value of care and kindness in the world. I told her about my pilgrimage and the street level practice of connecting with human beings by being present and kind. We also discussed the qualities of the Buddha and how I loved that something so small like my little buddhas could represent the vast potential in every human being.

I hadn’t taken my bag of 10 buddhas with me that morning  but I did have one buddha in my pocket and a small lotus charm that had been donated from someone in the sangha. I told her about the symbolism of the lotus. Holding the Buddha and the lotus in my palm I asked her if she would like to choose one to keep. I was convinced she would take the lotus however she immediately chose the Buddha and seemed delighted to have it.

As we parted I gave her a schedule of Melbourne Buddhist Centre classes as she had shared her wish to learn to meditate. Perhaps we will meet again.

Buddha donated by Leicestershire study group UK.IMG_3887