Today I handed out a Buddha to a lovely man who had come to Australia from his home country, Fiji, over twenty years ago. He came to make money to send back to support his extended family and all these years later he is still honouring that commitment . I offered him a Buddha and he chose a Vairocana with hands joined in the middle of the chest in the teaching mudra.
He said it reminded of him of the importance of prayer and faith.
This conversation was mainly held together by companionable silence.
He was a man with a big smile but few words. He had a gentle, still energy.
When he spoke about missing the fish and oceans surrounding Fiji his eyes gazed into the distance and I knew it was not the city skyline that he was seeing.
Have you ever experienced people as being like elements of nature?
With one person it might be like dwelling amongst the clouds and with another it feels volcanic.
Just sitting quietly with this gentle man put me in touch with a sense of the ocean floor – a hint of unseen vastness and depth.
I decided not to ask any more questions and just sit next to him – his gift was his energy.
This trip to Federation Square was unusual for me, as both on the tram trip to and from the city, two men on separate occasions had initiated conversations with me rather than the other way round. This is is definitely not the norm when you reach the ’60 year invisible’ age bracket and are surrounded with people safe in their technology assisted bubbles, earplugs firmly jammed in.
The first guy on my tram trip into the city apologised as he sat down next to me as if it was his fault that the small seat forced our arms to nearly touch. I sensed he was a man not used to being taken seriously so I smiled and made him feel welcome. The result was that he chatted away happily for the rest of the journey. It was a packed city tram and as I rose to get off I felt numerous eyes staring at me. A number of women in particular met my gaze as I looked around the tram. They looked curious and I was puzzled at first.
Then it dawned on me that everyone else had been silent for the journey so they may have heard our entire conversation alerting them to the fact that this man and I had started off as strangers.
I guess having an open conversation with a stranger in these settings is unusual enough these days. Or it could have been my kesa attracting attention …I guess I will never really know.
Then as I waited at the tram stop to go home after handing on a Buddha, a tall guy bounced up to me and asked about destinations of that particular tram route.
After giving hîm information he too chatted on. Since doing the Buddhas in my Pocket pilgrimage I notice a tendency is there now to not cut off from people so quickly, even if they are asking a simple question. I know I stay present longer and am surprised by what I find in that space.
This man was excited to be in Melbourne having come down from Queensland to visit his 15 year old daughter who he obviously rarely got to spend time with.
In fact he was bubbling with excitement and his happiness was infectious.
I sensed the commuters surrounding us seemed to be somehow gathered up into this bubble of friendliness even as they stood silently waiting at the tram stop.
Buddha donated by Padmabodhini ,Wales