The evening before we flew back to Taipei, we sat on a stone ledge near Grandma Ongg’s (翁奶奶) house in Kinmen Island and watched the moon rise. I was back to 5 years old again.
Grandma Ongg’s house is behind the stone ledge we sat on.
Some tourists passed us by. Too bogged down by their shopping bags and a bit anxious to locate their homestay houses they didn’t notice the Moon glowing benevolently above them.
The Moon wasn’t full yet, but her brilliance wasn’t any less because of that.
84-year-old Grandma Ongg had spotted us from the entrance of her 400-year-old house and decided to join us for a bit of moon watching.
We chatted in low tones and looked to the Moon as she weaved in & out of the clouds, her circular outline gaining prominence while we waited for her in the gathering dusk.
How often in our struggles with life we insist that we gotta be this or that in order to feel complete, when perhaps we are essentially complete. We just need time & space to notice it.
Grandma Ongg’s ancient house had been bombed 4 times. Each time it was bombed, they picked up the pieces and repaired the damages.
Like the almost full moon in Kinmen, we can still shine even if we’re chipped around the corners, or frayed around the edges by life’s challenges.
13 Sep 2019 (八月十五）
It was my first mid-autumn full moon observation away from Singapore, my home.
In the morning we visited Taipei’s 200-year-old temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess and received her blessings on behalf of all sentient beings, especially the animal rescuers and their animals.
After that we headed to an old part of town to meet a seal maker who has been in the engraving practice & trade since he was a teenager.
His explanations on font selection & placement according to the purpose for which a seal is made deepened my respect for the written characters.
And I began to understand why I’ve always been able to sense the subtle energies emitting from the characters I see in my surroundings.
30 Aug 2018
Corgi Boy was describing colours and textures with the help of labradorite stones.
He learnt that the installation that resulted from his instinctive balancing of one stone above the other is called a cairn.
Cairns are ancient markers of sacred spaces and ritualistic undertakings.
And without trying too hard, he was able to position the stones in ways that would catch the light and display their hidden iridescence.
He thus experienced the benefit of facing the light no matter how dark he felt inside.
He smiled at the shimmering stone from my special collection which I had placed on his palm & assured me he would take good care of it.
May this august new moon accept Corgi Boy’s labradorite cairn and bless him & all sentient beings with healing, grounding & balance.
1 Aug 2019
May the new moon bring renewal, clarity and courage to all sentient beings at each of the 7 stages of their lives.
May we give without expectations, and share without anxieties, as the practice of mandala offering to the moon has shown me.
Over the years of dedicating mandalas on new moon and full moon, I’ve learnt not to be distracted by the logistics of purchasing new materials or “creating” new mandala patterns.
I try to wait on the moon and trust that all things and ideas will be provided for.
Yesterday a boy on his way to lunch pluck two lime fruits and tossed them towards my work room.
Two days ago, the Indian florist gave me two bunches of fragrant leaves.
Even the copper plate holding this mandala was given to me.
And this is how today’s mandala came to be. And all I did was to be grateful and remember the Moon.
3 July 2019
My first English word was “cow”. I remembered the elation I felt when I could spell and pronounce it.
Respect for words is cultivated letter by letter.
As a child, I remembered fear leaving when I could understand what the doctor and nurses were saying about me.
As an adult, I remembered love rising when I could accept words that hurt me.
“Soar in English Word Bank” was published on 28 June 2019.
May the new moon shine her light on us and grant us a healthy relationship with words.
May the words we acquire turn confusion into clarity, hurt into love and ignorance into wisdom, for our own benefit and for the benefit of all sentient beings.
50 years ago my grandparents showed me that words are to be treasured more than material wealth.
17 June 2019
Wind Lion Guardians are made of stone & earth elements for their grounding effects. Capes are put on them as a gesture of respect & gratitude for their protective presence. Some islanders change their windlions’ capes based on seasonal celebrations. Sometimes what others see as idolatry may be just simple signs of connection with the universe.
The inhabitants of Kinmen Island place stone carvings of mythological lions (风师爷 feng shi ye) at strategic locations for protection from powerful winds and other elements that are beyond human control.
Over the years, these leonine creatures acquire various types of colours, shapes and designs to reflect their relevance to the island folks.
The moon rose above me as I walked on the old street of Houpu, my grandma’s birth place.
May the full moon bless all sentient beings with the luminosity to adapt to changes, especially during dark times.
And may we share the spirit of the Kinmen folks, who over time, turn attempts to manage hardship into works of art, as the multitude of wind lion designs have shown. 😊
Wishing all my friends the Lion’s Laughter.
5 May 2019
Seeing corn and various grains on altars as gestures of thanksgiving to the divine always comforts me deeply for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. (Maybe I’m quietly pleased that birds and other small animals might have something to eat when the ceremony’s over 😉)
The 8 auspicious grains in this new moon mandala offering are pearl rice, glutinous rice, oats, corn, red beans, black rice, red peanuts and red kidney beans. They make a good porridge that has health benefits too.
Likewise, as we care for our body & soul, may our heart be nourished by the new moon’s faithful light.
And may treasuring our own lives awaken us to treasure the lives of others.