Funfetti Cake And A Different Kind Of Mourning

DSC_0007

On Friday the Buddha’s relics went back to Paris after a year-and-a-half extended stay at Dhagpo. The fact that we got to hang on to them for so long (safekeeping while the Grand Pagoda where they stay normally underwent construction) was a blessing in itself. It doesn’t do to always want more. But I got so used to their presence. To knowing this manifestation of wisdom and physical piece of the Buddha himself was right nearby. To seeing their glittery little enclosure every Saturday, doing prostrations in the Institute and singing aspiration prayers with all the other aspiring folks. To walking quora all together and tucking some special chocolate I scoped out into the silver offering bowl.

I know the relics are technically just a manifestation, and that even if they are real, historical artifacts and extremely blessed, I can also access that blessing by connecting to the meaning whether they are here or not. But I’m not so good at that yet. And sparkly things inspire me. So, yeah, I’m gonna miss them. Loss number one for the week.

DSC_0023

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Shamar Rinpoche’s death (Tibetan calendar, if you’re worried I’ve lost my basic math skills). Similar to the relics, all the good he has put in place for all of us remains whether his physical presence is here or not. But it’s still hard to accept that I won’t ever get to have tea with him in his rocking chair-filled living room in Virginia or serve him his favorite French salami when he visits Dhagpo or sit in the Institute and listen to him crack jokes while he educates us all or feel the silence sweep through the hall as we sink into meditation with him. Or so many other things. Loss number two for the week.

DSC_0010

And also, my sister called me this week in tears to tell me that she needs time. That it’s hard that we live so far apart and we believe such different things at the very basis of our choices and that our paths have diverged so greatly in our short lives despite our deep love for each other. And so we’re taking space. Reflecting each on our own without the worry of having to figure out what to share or how or what moment with a nine-hour time difference and very busy, different schedules. We’re just…waiting to see what happens. And when things are a little bit more clear, we’ll pick up—not quite where we left off, but where we need to be. And this is good, and I’m proud of us for being mature enough to know that there are things we need to figure out on our own to make our relationship work, but also…loss number three for this week.

DSC_0029

And so I find myself grieving, but strangely, for things I have not truly lost. The strength and love we develop through our relationships stay with us, whether the people who taught us such care and resilience are physically present or not. I know this, and I have faith in this fact to carry me through the transitions. But I’m also wobbly on my feet. I’m used to having support I can connect with tangibly. All these various losses leave me only with inner strength and some fuzzy question marks about what those words even mean.

DSC_0045

And so I’m taking cliché flower pictures because it’s springtime and I have a camera and that seems to be what there is to do. And I’m making funfetti cake because it would make both Shamarpa and my sister smile if they were here and though I’m not sure what the Buddha would think of funfetti, I think he’d approve of the togetherness and gratitude that went into this cake.

Love you guys.

Recipe…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Double Anniversary And Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_1153

Tomorrow is my birthday, which marks twenty-five years that I’ve been on this earth. And Monday was my Dhagpo anniversary, which marks one year since I arrived in this magical corner of the Dordogne.

Birthdays are good for a lot of things—taking oneself to the symphony, eating midnight cake with best friends, exploring ancient caves in distant lands. I guess I’ve had some pretty stellar birthdays. Tomorrow I get to make lunch for my favorite wily old Tibetan, meditate with the Buddha’s relics, and eat cake with my Dhagpo family. The goodness of my life takes my breath away.

IMG_1174

Which reminds me of another thing birthdays are good for: taking stock and giving thanks. What have I done in this year of my life? Moved a few thousand miles around the world; fallen in love; accepted responsibility; faced heartache; realized dreams. I’ve become a part of something bigger than myself, for which I am ready to give my all and teach my heart to open.

IMG_1083

Which is no easy thing. I told a friend yesterday that when I really look and let myself feel, beneath the quotidian flotsam, I always have the sense that my heart is broken. He said, “A broken heart is an open heart.” I chided him for inexcusable cliché. He laughed me off and said, “Fine, but it’s true.” And damn it all, but it is true.

I’d like to heal my heart, to sew up all the cracks and feel better once and for all. But a heart with no cracks lets nothing in. And feeling fine is a fixed affair, while the world is not a fixed place.  So, okay world, thank you for breaking my heart. With change, and beauty, with terrifying uncertainty, and ear-ringing possibility, with everything that I cannot determine, and to which I can only open.

I’m in for another year. Let’s do this thing.

IMG_1158

I mentioned cake, but that’s for tomorrow and so there are no pictures yet. For now I give you cookies, because who doesn’t like cookies and plus these had people raving. If you think it is both distastefully wholesome and rather uninventive to add oatmeal to peanut butter cookies, I understand. I thought so too. I only did it because I wanted to use up some oats on the same day I needed to stave off a possible too-much-peanut-butter-and-jelly-by-the-spoonful catastrophe.  Fortunately, it turns out the result is much greater than the sum of its parts. Two familiar flavors with two awesome textures meet up for homey, toothy, utter satisfaction.

IMG_1084

Recipe…

Continue reading