Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lunar New Year at Lotus Lantern

I spent 24 hours this past weekend following the life of Buddhist monk, or more properly... a Buddhist nun. (How's that for a Valentine's Day celebration?)
Gangwha Lotus Lantern International Meditation Center was created in 1997 to be a place where foreigners could come learn about and experience Buddhism.

This is just what I did. Fear not folks, I'm not converting, but I am curious. Buddhism, among many other religions interest me. I just don't know much about them. Hence the temple stay. While I sadly cannot say I learned much about the Buddhist religion, in particular, I did learn a lot. Before I continue on this point... let me tell you a little bit out our agenda.

We arrived Saturday afternoon, changed into our hot monk-wear, settled into our rooms, and enjoyed ceremonial tea with one of the nuns. Can i please tell you enjoying tea as she prepared it was wonderful. Not an ordinary cup of tea bag tea. There was something rich about the ritual of brewing a pot of tea of fresh leaf tea. Preparing the cups and enjoying it over conversation. I loved it!

Anyway, our host nun was great! Super funny and very open. We learned a little bit about her life and her journey to become a nun. As you can imagine it was very interesting. It started with her first temple stay. After feeling the "peace" at the temple, she left her life as a successful advertising and public relations professional and hagwan (english academy) owner, and traded it for that of a nun. She told us a lot. One thing that rings loud in my ears and weighs heavy on me heart is when she said " I felt a deep emptiness. Being here helped... but i'm still trying to find the answers."

That night we experienced evening chanting and meditation sessions. Entering the temple of an idol is powerful. Not in the sense of this god having any true power, but in the intensity of being in the presence of people worshiping an idol. I could not look up at the alter for a few minutes. I was taken back by the reality of this false worship and it struck me hard. Everything in me wanted to yell, "Open your eyes!! Look and see!!! The Creator of the freakin' universe created the beauty outside of this place, is giving you the breath you need to mouth this chant. And you're bowing down to a golden man." What Moses must have felt!

But in an indescribable switch in emotion i soon felt empty of the emotion of it. I no longer was intrigued at the intricacy of the temple, or the eeriness of sitting before an alter dedicated to Buddha, but rather overcome with the assurance of its emptiness. People, falling prostrate before a created figurine in sincere hope. Jaded. There is no hope in a dead god.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was Sunday morning on a meditation walk through the countryside. I was just walking, looking at the beautiful scenery around me... thanking Jesus for being beautiful! We were trekking the property of what still looked like temple grounds. At one point I backed off from the group to take some pictures and looked to my right to see a cross in the snow. Of what you ask?! A power line pole had fallen in the snow so perfectly that it was perched up on a hill over all of this Buddhist land. Illuminated so beautifully by the white snowy background. I was reminded that Jesus is present. He's always present.

It was a good weekend. A once in a lifetime experience that's for sure!

Here are some pictures!

Monk Hotpants

The Darma Hall


The sunset was beautiful.

Hey. Thanks Jesus!


  1. Very cool story Sarah. "There is no hope in a dead god." Amen.

  2. Okay We're gonna have to talk more about this one! Sarah, you write so good! I love it!

  3. Im glad you guys enjoyed it! It was something else... that's for sure!!