Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chickens, Stone Carvers and the Grumpy Priest

It was a typical day in Bali. Just me, 100 golf balls, 200 unforgiving meters of grass, and some chickens. Who clucked and scratched and must have seen the meadow covered with its gathering collection of ersatz eggs as a kind of hen heaven. Safe for the most part, with just a slight potential for an occasional errant arcing missile that could almost instantly, if it made unfortunate contact, dispatch them from the verdant green playing field to the less pleasurable destination of someones dinner plate nearby.

Though the chickens were never once threatened by any of my soaring white projectiles the neighbors in their humble tin roofed shacks to my right nearby were certainly less fortunate. On my first outing I had sent such a relentless fusillade of projectiles in their direction that it seemed to my ears, as the balls fell with aching repetitiveness over the fence with such a cacophony of clanging and banging that any of the inhabitants there could easily have pictured themselves on the receiving end of a stormy biblical plague from a hostile sky.

I humbly hope, as my outings continue, and I genuinely strive and seek improvement, to both prove myself to be a better golfer and to treat the locals next door with the quiet respect they deserve.

I walked back to the hotel slowly. It was hot and sticky and my pace was leisurely. I felt the exotic peace and pleasure of the place with each shallow stride.

I came upon some stone carvers who were working on an elaborate entrance to
a building that could either have been a home or a temple. It is hard to tell sometimes here.

Everywhere you look there are statues and carvings and delicate offerings to the spirits, to the Gods, to the peace that resides within.

Not everyone here is an artisan but everyone here is part and parcel of a gentle mystical Balinese spirit that is present everywhere you walk or look.

The carvers seemed to enjoy my presence on their job site. What they create here now will remain for centuries. But the moment of creation is swift, transitory, and is over in an instant compared with how long the stone statues themselves will stand and stare out onto the busy street.

Some of the faces of the statues can often look frightening. I wonder if they are there to protect or frighten off more terrifying spirits?

There is nothing to fear however in the sweet and gentle faces of the carvers. Who work there steel tools with delicate strokes into the soft stone.

I do not know how long they have been working here or when their labor will be finished. I can only imagine that it will last for ages and perhaps I was the only one to record the magic they have wrought here.

No stroke is repeated. Each move unique and what they will leave behind will bestow infinite pleasure to those who come near, look close, and see the beauty within.

For every new face to emerge under the hands of a carver there are the countless ones that have been crafted for generations.

Close nearby was a small sweet temple that seemed to have no one inside. Fresh flowers adorned the statues so I knew it was not a neglected place.

Once inside the gates the noise and clatter of the road outside disappeared. The green rich grass under my feet was soothing and inviting. My torment with errant golf balls was replaced with solitude and peace.

I sat quietly for a moment and felt each breath return peace to my being replacing any thoughts or agitations that may have vexed me moments earlier.

After a while I saw a lone Priest walking around the grounds caring a basket of offerings. Here and there he walked slowly and gently placed small palm leaf baskets filled with fresh flowers.

I followed him on his rounds for a short while. When he spotted me I bowed in respect. He paid little attention to me but willingly accepted my request to take his picture. I do not think I added to his unhappiness. I was certainly content. I hoped he would feel better, when a short while later, I slipped quietly away, back out onto the noisy street from whence I came.

Peace in stone statues

Has inspired and helped the world

Infinitely more

Than the present-day

Self-acclaimed peace-possessors.

Excerpt from Peace: God'S Fragrance-Heart, Part 2 by Sri Chinmoy.

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