Yesterday was my birthday.
Twenty years ago, on my birthday, I decided to visit the Kuan Yin temple on the outskirts of Portland. Kuan Yin is sometimes described as the goddess of mercy and compassion. She is often depicted holding a vase in her hand, which is filled with the nectar of compassion that she pours out over the world. She has always been special to me, like a guardian angel.
I had never been to the temple before. It was a weekday, and when I got there, no one was there and the door was locked. But as I turned to walk away, a Chinese man came to the door and opened it. He was dressed casually. I told him why I was there and he graciously invited me in. He allowed me to go into the main room and sit in meditation for a short time. As I got up to leave he returned, now dressed in monk robes. Turns out he was the abbot of the temple. He gave me a little bracelet and a prayer card for my birthday.
I wanted to go back to the temple for my birthday yesterday, but when I went online a few weeks ago to check their website, I saw they are closed now because of Covid. I sent a message, explained my earlier visit, and asked if it would be possible for the abbot to light some incense for me and say a blessing for me on my birthday. Someone (a volunteer?) answered, and told me that the abbot would be pleased to do that. Turns out the abbot is the same man I met twenty years ago. I sent a donation to the temple, and in return I got a little package with another bracelet, and some tea blessed by the abbot. The volunteer also said that January 9 is the day they planned to offer prayers commemorating Buddha’s enlightenment and that it was therefore a very auspicious day. Yay.
So yesterday, I opened the packet of tea and made some. I offered a cup to the Kuan Yin who graces my living room (pictured) and sat at her feet enjoying this blessed gift. It was a perfect way to celebrate the day of my birth.
May the tea of blessing mix with the nectar of compassion to nourish all beings. Om mani padme hum.