Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bodhisattva in Purple Tights

Today I lived a Sunday morning as if it was a Sunday morning. Well, I didn’t got to a formal church service, but I did leave the computer closed and got out the door by 9:00 am for the annual visit to the plum trees on Edgewood Terrace near my house. In this time of everything 24/7,  I was heartened to know that Sunday still feels different. The streets were quiet and unpeopled and the traffic sparse. The sun was slowly soaking into my bones and illuminating the peaked plum blossoms that line this lovely street. I then sauntered (my favorite walking pace) to the local Farmer’s Market, the smells of food cooking and the sounds of a steel drum reaching me before I reached them. I entered the market to join the crowd sampling and tasting, joined in our common pleasure of fresh fruit and vegetables, tasty treats served up by friendly vendors. From there to the local bakery, where the bread was still warm and the happy workers in the Arizmendi Collective made change with a smile.

On to the Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, my oldtime companion in my 40-year San Francisco history. My wife was with a group sketching magnolia trees in full regalia, photographers were poking lens into the hearts of sleeping flowers, a group of Japanese women sang a song together and then giggled in pleasure. Everyone out doing nothing in particular but enjoying the day. I suppose that’s what the Sabbath is for. You can go to a temple, mosque or church if you prefer, but it’s all about taking time out to savor and praise and personally, I find a stroll in the park or walk in the woods to be my preferred medium of paying attention and offering gratitude. To each his own.

How happy I was to have the good sense to get the heck out of the house and partake in this tiny slice of life as it’s meant to be lived! How seldom I do it! But as Henderson the Rain King (in an old Saul Bellow novel) so wisely said, “The forgiveness of sin is perpetual.” My oft-repeated sin is not lust or greed or commandment-breaking, but simply forgetting to remember what’s important. And then remembering. And then forgetting again.

At this point, you may be wondering about the title. In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is someone who has traveled far enough up the spiritual path to merit release from the cycle of birth and death, but chooses to be reborn out of compassion for us suffering human beings. They stay behind to help us out. What does this have to do with today’s blog? And what’s the deal with the purple tights?

Patience. There is an explanation. Firstly, I felt like my titles have been lacking in punch lately and when I heard this phrase, I just knew I had to use it. Secondly, these words were spoken by a friend of drama teacher Sue Walton at her Memorial Service as a way to describe both Sue's selfless giving to others and her wacky dramatic self. I wrote about Sue back on Dec. 15th (“Farewell to Wanda Woman”) and it was touching to come to this service yesterday. I’m reasonably sure Sue herself would never claim the title of Bodhisattva, but she did own every inch of her 6’2” frame, shared her passion with the world and made herself memorable to everyone who met her. She left behind a trail of fun songs, epic plays and an infectious gusto for life.

Sue and I had many a memorable moment together putting on 10 years of plays at The San Francisco School. I’m only sorry that I never invited her to take a walk with me in the Arboretum on a Sunday wearing purple tights. 

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