If you go looking

Today we visited the Shambhala Mountain Center in Northern Colorado. Five winding miles up a dirt road, past pine-dotted cliffs, a sprawling alpine meadow reveals itself for those seeking peace of heart and quiet of mind. 

Prayer flags whip in the wind that whisks through the valley, their vivid hues fading in the late summer sun. Gravel grumbles gently under feet that carry you up, up, up to the Great Stupa, which rises improbably from the landscape in white and gold — an offering, a blessing to the land and those who visit. 

But just beyond lies my very favorite thing: a small shinto shrine. Recognizing that it can’t compete with the landscape, it’s crafted humbly from only wood and stone. A gesture of a gate, a string of paper swans, and bowls of rice, water and salt are all that greet you. Cleanse your hands. Now your mouth. Follow the path to the shrine. Bow in each direction. Clap twice. Give what you can. 

In these times, when so many seem to bend to hate, to be quick to anger and eager for violence, here is a place for hope. Because people arrive, one after another, seeking love and willing to sacrifice. Trying to be better. 

And when I need to remember that in the coming days and weeks, it’s this place I’ll re-inhabit, these moments I’ll relive. I’ll take comfort in knowing someone else is there, right now, maybe feeling this same hope. And then I’ll remind myself that the world is still a beautiful place, if you go looking. 

So let’s go. 

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Celena Carrairstream, rving, travel