Recently, I have been going about once a month on a bus tour through the 88 Temples of Shikoku. It has been a wonderful experience and I greatly enjoy every chance I have to learn something new. I have lived in Japan for quite a few years, but I simply marvel at how much there is yet for me to learn.
This month will also mark the beginning of the Setouchi Art Festival. That is very exciting, and I look forward to going out and seeing the exhibits. In past years I have been very busy with our language schools, but this is the year I am going to take some proper time to go out, see the art, and introduce things to you, our faithful readers.
Getting back to the Ohenro experience… I have to admit that I feel like I am very much on a kind of pilgrimage. I cannot compare my own experiences (or journey) to those of other people around me. I am in awe of the pilgrims who walk the many miles around Shikoku, to literally follow in the footsteps of Kukai. But, I also am of the mind that we are, each one of us, on journeys of understanding of our own. We all have things that we need to deal with. We all have difficulties we have gone through in the past. We all have damaged relationships with people that we loved before, or wish would be more involved in our lives. Many people have pain, have had suffering, experienced loss, and have personal histories that we cannot see.
There is something elegant and beautiful in the simple acceptance of the paths of others. And to do so, from the side as if watching them pass by, without judgement or evaluation. To be in the moment with them, and should they share something of themselves with us in the moment their lives touch ours, we consider it good fortune and good luck that we should have had the moment together.
A moment of pause. A moment of distractionlessness. Just. A. Moment.