Boudha Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal
As I walked through Boudhanath, Kathmandu, one evening in September of 2013, under a light rain, I was enveloped in the crowd. Everyone was headed in the same direction, toward the Great Stupa. I was reminded of Barcelona, where I had been the week before. But here, instead of heading to the plaza to sip wine and share food with family and friends, we were headed to a sacred place to walk in brisk clockwise circles murmuring prayers.. or chatting with family and friends. I love both customs and the way they bring people together in a shared space at the same time.
From the broken place in the retaining wall
I can see where the rains
Formed a rivulet
Leading down to where the water
Even when the rains never come.
The flow moves on through still, deep places,
Through playful shallows,
Down to the lake where my friend
Walks his dog at sunrise.
Over the dam, it’s a river again
(as it always was, underneath)
Flowing on its meandering course,
Crossed by repeating bridges,
Onward to the sea where another friend
Walks her dog along the beach at sunset.
And out on the far shore of the same sea
(it’s always the same sea)
Another friend repairs a wall
Broken by a recent flood.
We are all time travelers. It’s just that most of the time, the limit of 24 hours per day, 365 (and ¼) days per year in strict linear succession is pretty rigorously enforced. Once in a while, though, we get to transcend those limits. I had such an opportunity this past week, reminiscing in the company of old friends. I had a visit on Monday from someone who was a very important part of my life back in the early 1970s. On Tuesday I traveled to Dallas and spent time with a few of my favorite people from my graduate school years in the last half of the 1970s. Then Thursday night I met up with some dear friends from my undergraduate years in the late 1960s. Time has treated all of us differently. Our experiences apart from each other occupy far more days and years than the ones during which we were interacting on a daily basis. And yet… the reasons why we became friends remain apparent. Sure, we evoke the past by sharing stories, but we also listen with interest to stories about things we were not a part of, and by sharing those stories we catch up the threads that continue to bring us together, year after year. See you again soon, guys!
(IMAGE: The timeless stairway of Dallas Hall at SMU.)