Sunday, February 27, 2005

Nuns in the Gallery

The Wife and I, my mom and dad and my little sister had to go up to Boston for my cousin's first birthday. My dad had the great idea to take the opportunity to stop by Wellesley College to see the Tibetan Nuns and their sand Mandala. The experience was breathtaking.

We arrived around noon presumably during a midday prayer service because instead of working the sand the nuns were seated in a small roped off area in the corner of a serene and quiet gallery. Quite but for the beautiful and hypnotic chanting. Nine voices and occasional bells. Haunting and lovely at once I could listen to these Buddhist chants forever.

Dad, The Wife, Little Sister and I headed out to explore the rest of the museum after about twenty minutes. We were hoping that when we got back the nuns would be working on the Mandala. That's not a bad museum they have over there. More than a few very impressive works including a Willem de Kooning. There was a lot to take in but it made me remember just how much fun it was for us to go out to the arts museum just about once a months with my dad. A good time was had.

When we got down to the first floor we were happy to see the nuns hard at work and smiling at all of the spectators. Their work is painstaking and takes, as would be expected due to their faith,a tremendous amount of patience. It is beautiful to see. They work separately and without words yet all towards a common goal. The goal is not a beautiful sand mandala for the ages, This Mandala like all the others will be released back to the earth by way of the Charles River. The beauty and art is in the process not the result. Just like Chris in the Morning making Holling Vincoeur burn his paint-by-numbers landscape in the furnace. Just try and pretend you don't get the reference.

To say that the experience was moving does not quite fit. lets say it reaffirmed. Since college I have been a student of Buddhism and was fascinated to stand in the nuns presence during prayer even if it were for only a half an hour. If you see a similar project in your area please attend. It is fascinating.


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