I wrote these words in my journal when I was at Boudhanath, in Kathmandu:
Here is the Buddha himself magnificently before me, strong, rounded, ample, powerful. They say that this place, more than any other place in all the world, is where wishes are heard and answered.
What are my wishes:
1. I wish to heal. Heal the mother in me who feels wounded.
2. I wish for true companionship.
3. I wish that my son will find his way, his strength, his chai, his chi, his life-force, and know his inner beauty.
The first wish is nearly granted. I am a good mother if hardly conventional. I have done my best. This wish is the one I came to Nepal to plead. It requires a sacrifice. I would like to stay here to explore further sides of myself in the world, accomplish something that feels like an accomplishment. But it is time to return. The journey must be completed for the wish to come true. This is what the spirit of the place, Boudha, tells me. It called to me and I came. There was much to learn. Have I learned what I came here to learn? Here is what I found out:
That I love my son.
That I have a great desire to take care of him and to be with him.
That, although he can care for himself, I want very much, very much, to spend more time with him.
He has confessed that I drive him crazy, that he doesn’t always like me! This makes me laugh. Bravo! I am shouting. Hooray for you to be able to tell your mother this!
I like Boudha. I could spend a long time here. It is a good place. I like the people circumambulating the stupa, an anarchic procession they call chora or kora. I liked riding my bicycle here.
I have been watching a man doing his puja, his prostrations, for over an hour. He is wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt and he is bald. He has wrapped his prayer beads around his wrists. He stands, raises his beads with both hands to the top of his head, then to his third eye, and then to his chest. He kneels, hands sliding up the wooden prayer board, lays himself out and pushes himself back up, swings his hands above his head, touches his third eye, his chest, and down to the board. His hands slide up to support his body in plank, and then brace to push him back up again. He has repeated this movement twenty or thirty times while I have been describing it. He looks older, maybe 60. A woman in a pink kurta sits indolently on the board next to him, where a dog is sleeping in the shade.
I am looking up at the Buddha’s stern, blue eyes and this is what they say to me:
“The connection was never lost, never broken, only tested.”
“But,” I complain, “there were gaps, missing slats on the bridge between us!”
The Buddha says,
“It is whole. All is well. The bond, the bridge, is sturdy. Trust it across wide distances and deep canyons. You will never break it.”
The sky is so beautiful tonight. Bright clouds are puffing out behind the dark mountain and the golden roofs of the gompas. Bells are ringing, dogs are barking, and the tourist stores are broadcasting “om mane peme hum.” Prayer flags are swaying gently in the wind. My heart is full of love.