Circumambulation at Wildwood Lake
In Buddhist tradition, circumambulation is a body prayer. Reciting mantras, you walk around a shrine or stupa built to honor and enclose a beloved teacher's ashes along with offerings of precious jewels, holy texts, incense, and relics. Lama Zopa Rinpoche encourages us to circumambulate with our pets so that they, too, might gain the merit and blessing of this prayerful act.
I've been circumambulating Wildwood Lake for the past few years. A few times with my dog, with family, and many times on my own in the early morning hours. My prayer is sometimes mantra but most times silence and awareness. In the absence of her ashes, this is where my husband and I remembered one of my own spiritual teachers and family members with an offering of spoken poetry and a bowl of indigo hydrangeas and highbush cranberries from our garden. Within the embrace of this holy place are many Beings who are both jewels and teachers- Great Blue Heron lingers over the spillway. Green Heron struts on the sunken log where Turtle basks, posing for the wildlife photographers. Snowy Egret sleeps in and won't arise before the sun. Deer strides through the long grasses to drink at the shore. Sycamore reaches to the sky with colossal branches of blazing white light. This time of year, the creamy blooms of the American Lotuses have long faded. Dark brown lotus seed pods protrude at all angles clustered closest to shore. The blown-out crepe-paper umbrellas of their leaves half-submerged in the night-sky-water float lazily on the ripples. To walk with holy reverence around this leaving behind, falling away, and decay teaches me that grief, pain, COVID-19, anxiety, joy, hope, are all included. In each hearty pod, are the small lotus pearls that will spill into the water and bring next year's bounty of buoyant blooms. My friend Sue crafted a lotus seed mala for me made from lotuses that grew elsewhere -What grows at Wildwood stays at Wildwood. When I sit in meditation in my prayer room each morning with my lotus seed mala in hand, I find that I am not circumambulating the sacred life of the lake, but invited directly into its center. I plop out of my own dried carapace, root in the muck, and feel that invitation to open and grow.
Justin is a Spiritual Companion in training with Oasis Ministries, on the Dharma path with the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism and profoundly curious about how Spirit works in each person’s life.