It has been one week that I (ran away from home) to find my brave. I have battled the frigid cold, wind, lived on Ensure for a couple of days. I had to find a thrift store because I packed like it was Summer and silly me, it is still Winter in San Bernardino. But I am surviving.
A monastery I found called me day before yesterday and invited me over for lunch. I had left the a note seeking counsel as I had been battling depression for my entire life and that was the reason I left. My depression returned and I was hearing everything from I had been faking for attention to being scolded for not being strong enough to snap myself out of it had pushed me to the edge. thoughts of ending it had begun to be my daily norm and that scared me. This invitation was a God send.
Jay informed me to arrive by 10:30 a.m. and stated that the monks loved cheeseburgers, so bring plenty.
When I arrived, there stood an elderly man with orange fabric draped over his body and an orange head wrap. He stood still and at first glance I thought he was a statue. His skin was very bronze. I parked and he commanded me, “Come, now!” Oh shit, I thought, grabbed the cheeseburgers and followed him into the house.
The elder I learned, was Ajahn, meaning master or teacher. A large bearded gentleman came in, “I’m Jay, we spoke on the phone.” Jay would stay by my side the entire time to guide me on etiquette, translation and guidance.
We stepped over to very colorful artifact of candles, Buddhas, flowers, insense…so many things. Jay guided me to light three incense sticks and I knelt on the floor while Adjan had me repeat what he was saying three times. He only spoke Thai and it was hard repeating what he said.
This was a ceremony for offering my cheeseburgers to them. I put my hands together in praying form and mumbled what he was saying as it was in Thai and I had no idea how to say them. A few times he would say something over loud, I guess I said it wrong. Then at one point as a blessing he wopped me on the head with a wet small broom.
At the end, he tied a red yard bracelet on my wrist. I thought, yay, let’s eat. Not the case.
In come in two ladies with bowls and bowls of food. Then we were instructed to sit back and Ajahn hit this big gong and the Monks came in and sat at the table. The monks eat first and when they are done they invite us over to the four corners of the tables and we hold on to the table and we started praying getting permission to eat what the monks left.
Everything was spicy, but I did try almost everything. This is when I started talking to Chinda, she was the wife of the president to the Wat Buddhavas. She was curious who I was and I explained that I was tent camping nearby. Oh like Pratyeka Buddhas, Jay explained those were the Buddhist who retreat into nature to enlighten themselves. Jay explained my entire situation with my permission.
Chinda got very emotional. She explained that I was there for a reason. She and her entire family suffer from depression. She had a son at 16 commit suicide. Then her mother was found in her bed by her brother stabbed and mutilated. The entire family’s depression has become worse but thanks to the teachings of Buddha, she is getting better without medication.
The rest of the day we walked around the beautiful peaceful grounds and did some rituals and praying and meditation.
It is early morning the next day and I am going to get ready and go over there again. I came to my tent and fell asleep early. I was so exhausted. Jay left me with one phrase:
Who is there for you with love and compassion when you are sick, hold onto them, that is life’s way of showing you who is true.