“But you accept me as I am with all that is fragile, all that is broken, all that is beautiful, too…Then the extraordinary thing is we can let down barriers, we don’t have to prove, I don’t have to pretend I’m better than you are, I’m allowed to be myself. I’m allowed to be myself because you love me.” Jean Vanier
“Any deep and genuine friendship is rooted in a covenant of two persons…To believe in someone is to give that person your heart, the very core of your being. We give each other a heightened sense of self-esteem, not through some dramatic, sensational act of love, but through the steadfast act of relentless belief in another day after day, acknowledging all the other’s potentials and possibilities.” Carmen Caltagirone, Friendship As Sacrament
One of the cornerstones to my 30 days of 30 is that it hinges on celebrating the relationships in my life–the people whose lives intertwine with mine from varying paths and worlds that I’ve been a part of over the years. While I have many ways that I love to celebrate people, one of my absolute favorites is to send snail mail (in fact, my project on July 1 centers around snail mail). Yesterday for the first part of my 5th Day of 30 Days of 30, I wrote snail mail: letters went out to penpals, to friends; I sent cards of congratulations and condolence; I wrote 10 (my maximum) Postcrossing cards.
All of this is a process: I like to specifically select the card, the stamp, that I think best matches the person who’s getting the mail. I own most of the current stamps that the Post Office has released… In fact, if you get one of those American Flags or Lady Liberty on your card from me, it isn’t because it’s my default stamp. It’s because you’ve told me that you like them (I can’t stand them). Letters are joy in a mailbox, especially amid the bills, catalogues, and flyers. So my first 30 Days of 30 activity of the day was to spread joy in the world, just a little bit.
Here is a sample of the assortment of mail I sent out:
My second activity to celebrate 30 Days of 30 was to visit Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC), which has a Prayer Room and a Peace Park with wonderful trails. There is also a lending library, and a room filled with the most amazing, beautiful, enormous crystal formations. My friend, Christa, had shared it with me in the fall, and since then I’ve returned many times. It’s a quiet space, and I love that since 1985, they have had a 24-hour, continuous prayer vigil. Every time I go to the Peace Park (as I call it), I return energized and calmed.
I love introducing friends to the space so that it becomes their own; my preference is to take people there individually for the first time. Yesterday, I went with my friend, Wendy. She met me at my house and we carpooled over together after she had signed her book for me.The entire experience was magical and filled with light, joy, gift. HOWEVER, there is a specific instance that bears sharing:
Wendy and I had seen the inside of the center and spent about an hour there. We walked outside and crossed the street to the Peace Park and began to follow one of the trails to a large stupa. As we made our way, we chatted, sharing various stories: we were deep in conversation when we approached a low bridge, surrounded by lush greens and the strong, sweet smell of both white AND yellow honeysuckle. Without warning, what seemed like (but must have been fewer) a hundred fairy-sized blue butterflies swirled around us and danced, playing in circles, zooming so close they could have landed, and then just as quickly, flitting slightly away. Wendy and I stopped, conversation halted. We stood in this swirling circle of blue magic and drank it up. I don’t know how long we were frozen and smiling, maybe 5 minutes, but I do know that time stopped.
We thanked the butterflies, and then continued on to the stupa just ahead. While we were walking the stupa, another butterfly went to land on Wendy; she and I sat in the grass and watched more butterflies (these were different though—yellows and golds, yet still tiny) for a few minutes.
On our way out of the Peace Park, our path took us past the bridge again. There were no butterflies as we approached, and yet, once we placed our feet on the bridge, they came back! Again, the blue butterflies swirled us, carrying joy and delight. We stood for less time, thanked them, and then continued on our way out of the park. Wendy said to me as we walked away, “They came for US. I bet they’ll come back if we return.” She and I looked at each other, then turned and strolled back to the bridge (we were all of 10 feet past it). Sure enough, butterflies were gone, and as we walked onto the wood, they returned: not as many as before, but still, a large number danced and played around us once we hit the center of the bridge.
The moment(s) repeated 3 times, which just happens to be a factor of 30. I don’t think it is a coincidence… I think it was a gift for my 30th birthday, while I was with another magical person, a reminder that there are wonder-and joy-provoking things all around us, if we just shut up and take a moment to be with them.
All in all, a great 5th day.
Here’s a picture of Wendy and me, ready to drive home: