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.
May the full moon fill our little lives with her golden light, so that we may live large, and bring forth branches of benefits to others. Vespa bikes with attached carriages lent a special retro touch to our roadside breakfast experience.
We took our breakfast by the roadside under the coolness of this beautiful old tree.
A woman on a visit to her birthplace after many years took her daughter to the shop where she used to eat porridge in her youth.
Delighted, she found themselves a table while her daughter was still browsing in the shops nearby.
The porridge business owner took her order & said calmly that there would be a 20min wait for her childhood porridge. And no, her request to split a bowl of porridge into 2 portions for sharing would not be possible because it was not their business practice. (The man couldn’t have known that his customer had taken her breakfast earlier on in the hotel.)
Mid way, she was also told that if she was in a hurry, she could go elsewhere for her porridge because there were other shops serving similar fare.
As she waited, the woman came to realise that her porridge memory had no meaning to the porridge seller or even to her own daughter. It was hers and hers alone.
So when the porridge finally arrived, she asked for it to be packed for takeaway.
Our tribal disposition & survival needs tend to cultivate the illusion that the strength & validity of what we feel, think and experience depend on the amount of support we receive when we share them. But the reality is, even with the closest of friends or kins, every thing we experience is still private.
And perhaps if we learn to accept this, we’ll feel less afraid if no one understands what we’re going through, and less lonely if no one celebrates our happy moments with us.
In seeing that all memories, pains and joys are deeply personal, no matter how much or little they can resonate with others, we might then see things as they really are, before we move on to see things as we wish them to be.
I met Margo, then a stray dog, seeking shelter in a bus stop in Taman Jurong on a stormy evening like this. The year was 2004.
One night I saw her lounging quietly in the moonlight while the tree branches above her swayed.
“Margo in the Moonlight” came to mind as her body seemed to gleam amidst the vast darkness of Jurong Park. This is how the dog found her name.
Later on, Margo was to face danger from some park goers who found her “dangerous”. Once she was even caught, thrown into a gunny sack and taken to be drowned in Jurong Lake.
Old men frequenting the park to chat or play chess came to know of the scheme and intervened.
The one who loved Margo most when she was living in the park approached me to find a proper home for his “Ah Girl.” He was ready to lose Margo’s companionship in exchange for her safety.
That was how Margo came to be my friend, Lily and her husband’s beloved doghter for the next 15 glorious years.
I remember the day Lily gently leashing Margo in order to walk her to the waiting car. One of the old men spoke with a ritualistic air in the cantonese dialect to the collared dog, “Henceforth you are wearing a gold chain and have no need to roam or be hungry again.”
And true to the blessing bestowed, Margo lived the life of a princess after she left Jurong Park.
Earlier this evening, this brave girl who had overcome the perils of homelessness to live a life of loving & giving, transited into Light.
As the rain lashed at my window and the full moon rose, I dedicated a mandala on Margo’s behalf.
15 years ago Margo appeared to me in a rain storm and gained her name in the moonlight.
15 years later, wind and rain escorted her as she left us during the full moon. Margo’s life has indeed “come full circle,” as her mom observed.
May all sentient beings have the good fortune of Margo to live a full life.
May all elements assist to facilitate an auspicious transit into Light when the time comes.
Ho Ming Fong wrote “Sing to the Dawn.” My dad taught me to sing to the moon when I was 5.
Yesterday was full moon. My tutee Niq is now in Primary 2. His spelling list has gotten longer. Twenty words this time.
I shared with him how singing to the moon when I was a kid taught me not to be afraid of being alone or lost, because wherever I am, there’s always the moon above looking to guide me.
He listened intently. I could see him grappling with the concept that just because we don’t see something, it doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.
We were at Marina Bay waiting for Moonrise. Meanwhile as he explored the grounds, he learnt about rising and falling tides and how they bring in shells & garbage that get stuck on the coastal vegetation when the tide retreats.
He picked up a broken shell to keep because he wanted to know “what the inside looks like.” But for pieces to give away, he looked for intact ones.
Asking “Why are the shells broken?” led him to learn about impact caused by Man & Nature, and the need to tread lightly on earth so as not to harm others.
He also found an elastic hair band to dispose of properly so that it wouldn’t end up in the stomach of seabirds & marine creatures.
“Why don’t you spell to the Moon?” I prompted, “that way she also knows the words for your spelling test. And when you’re stuck you can think of the Moon and she’ll give the words back to you.”
I’ve found focussing on an aspect of nature, be it the moon or a tree or even a small patch of an open sky can help young people stay calm when they meet problems. In this way a space opens up for solutions to emerge.
“But I also want to sing to the Moon,” he responded.
We waited as the sun set and the wind rose. The lights around the barrage came on. Then a feathery patch in the sky appeared. It shifted in brightness according to the clouds covering it.
As the Speller sat in the dark, humming a made-up tune the Moon gradually revealed her luminous presence in that magical moment.
Over dinner under the Moon, Niq said to me in mocked modesty as he munched on a satay,” Don’t ask me to spell ‘nutritious’ cos I don’t know.”
May the full moon bless all sentient beings who have the gift of words and speech to help those who don’t.
And may her light imbue our words with the power to raise the spirit in joy for ourselves and for all sentient beings.