The village green in Toowoomba was empty as it was too hot to sit directly in the sun.
So I moved over to a park bench under a shady tree.
A man was sitting on a bench directly opposite to me. Shorts, backpack, shade.
I smiled and commented on the weather and so began the communication dance of strangers.
He told me he did not live in Toowoomba but was there doing ‘ undercover work’. I don’t wish to give away in this post what he was actually doing but I can assure you it is a very helpful job he is engaged in.
I felt heartened, as the field he was working in is one where women are often taken advantage of financially. His undercover work lessens the chance of that happening.
This man travels all over Australia doing this useful job. For part of each day he gets to sit in city parks and town squares for a couple of hours and enjoys watching people going about their business. However he said he often felt sad when he saw people in the grip of addiction and struggling with the weight of a hard life.
So I told him about my Buddhas in the Pocket pilgrimage and how I also am traveling around the country and meeting many interesting people.
He did know a bit about Buddhism. He told me more about the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple near Wollongong (photos below) which I had visited many years ago when it had been first built.
He also shared some of stories about visiting Buddhist temples and sites in Thailand with his wife. In one place he had seen large stone Buddha statues with their heavy stone heads chopped off, victims of some long forgotten conflict.
I moved to sit next to him on his bench seat and took my bag of Buddhas out.
I invited him to choose one. The one he picked was a small metal Buddha.
I gave him my blog address and said he could see what I might write about our meeting.
I said he could follow the journey if he wanted to.
He enthusiastically replied, ‘Yes I want to be part of this journey!’
Both of us had noted the small imperfection in the base of the Buddha.
‘Well, we are all like that.’ he said.
He seemed interested in the Buddha’s story so I told him a little about how the Buddha was prepared to sit for a very long time under a tree until he really deeply understood how things really were.
A cheeky grin formed as he listened to the story.
And then his eyes gazed up to the wide, shading tree we were sitting under.
I realised what he was thinking and I said ‘ All things are possible ‘
Saying goodbye we shook hands as I left him to go about his undercover business.
Buddha donated by Pam Melbourne