I took the kids out for a walk today – over the hill to a nearby village, and on through the surrounding woods to a Buddhist shrine I heard about from a friend a few days ago. Of course now I’m curious about the back-story of the shrine – who built it, when, and why.
The village we walked through along the way had been rather inventive in creating an activity for the local children instead of traditional halloween customs – with many houses throughout our route assembling scarecrows in their front gardens. I lost count of how many effigies of Donald Trump we saw. We also saw Ana and Elsa, Spiderman, Iron Man, Yoda, the Cat in the Hat, and countless witches.
After leaving the village behind we found ourselves on leaf carpeted farm tracks and footpaths, and climbed out towards a surrounding wall of woods. My daughters became increasingly worried about the sound of the wind through the trees – it’s no wonder people believed in “the spirits of the forest” in times past.
Finally, after navigating a dense copse of trees, we spotted the flags of the storied Buddhist shrine in the distance, and picked our way towards it. We celebrated by sitting on a nearby bench and eating packed lunches that I had carried with me. I also retrieved a flask of tea, and we took turns – sharing the cup. Hot tea after a long walk harbours magical restorative powers.
My eldest daughter retrieved several pennies from her pockets, and deposited them in small doorways around the shrine. She had no idea why she might be expected to do it, but she had found coins left by others, and thought it the right thing to do. I smiled, and reminded them of the elves in the movie “Eurovision”.
After a very one sided debate about the best route home, we walked back the way we had come, and returned home – back past the scarecrows, and bumping into a friend en-route. We arrived home about four hours after leaving – with a few aches and pains, but mostly with smiles and new stories to tell.
This evening I cooked dinner for everybody – a traditional roast dinner with chicken, roast potatoes, sweetcorn, carrots, and gravy. Everybody clean-plated. There’s something about fresh air, cooked dinner, and a quiet Sunday evening – all seems well with the world if only for a few hours.