Sunday, 11 November 2012

A Buddhist Half term

I know readers of this blog are just dying to know how I spent my half term holiday.
I know, I know, but fear not, the end to your anguished questioning in the small hours of the night has come to an end, I am going to present you with the highly profound and dramatically interesting account of how a Nichiren Buddhist teacher spends her half term.

Now, allow me to give you a bit of much needed (and clearly yearned after) background.

Probably most of you battalions of readers know that I am an Italian living in London. I also have the great fortune of doing one of the best jobs in the world: teaching teenagers (and that, folks, is the only non-sarcastic thing I have said so far). Seriously, I love my job. Even when I hate it. Even when I have a sh*t day, when I simultaneously wish for 25 hours in the day so I can finish marking my books and for some sort of illness that will sign me off for the foreseeable future, that kid in the corridor saying "Hola senyorita!" and that other one asking me if he can sit down in French during a Maths cover lesson just make it all worth it. Seriously.

Aside from being the most awesome job in the world, it comes with a few perks. Free weekends (so I can do Buddhist stuff). Reasonably regular working hours (so I can do Buddhist stuff). A decent salary (which to me still feels like winning the lottery every month) and most importantly, holidays.

I have three half term holidays of a week each and three longer holidays. Normally, because I'm a foreigner, I spend Christmas, Easter and most of Summer back home in Sicily, but I usually spend Half terms in London doing sweet FA. Or so I tell myself. Let's see...

Dedicated Lilac activity at the Buddhist centre. It was my third time Lilacing at the Gohonzon Receiving at that particular centre. I want to lilac there every month I like it so much. Because that is the centre my HQ supports, I know it quite well and I was able to help the rest of the team quite a lot (me likes being helpful).

Sunday Morning:
It was the last shift I supported as part of the Core team. I mentioned this before in my many ramblings about lilacing. For the past year I have been part of a wonderful team of four Lilacs who each month support one of the four shifts our HQ takes up at the Buddhist centre. I.e. we call the lilacs who are down for the shift, encourage them, chant for them, etc... An entire year and I never had any problems. I don't remember any cancellation, just one lilac being late (and that was my fault for giving her the wrong time). My last shift? First a lilac cancels the day before. I finish my Dedicated Lilac activity, go to the general chanting room and chant for an hour to find a replacement. I find a replacement. Hooray! Sunday morning I was having a lie in, replacement texts me saying she doesn't feel well and can't go. Ah, well, we have to end with a bang or so it seems. I don my uniform again and go for the shift. Good shift btw. And that is the end of my adventure as a Core Lilac (sniff!)

Sunday Afternoon:
Young Women's meeting at my place. I happen to also be a District leader and as part of that I have meetings in my teeny tiny room. All of ONE young women appear, which was just as well considering she had the most incredible experience to tell. Seriously, I used to read that sort of stuff in the Nuovo Rinascimento (AOL Italian equivalent) in the early '90s. An incredible and profoundly inspiring tale of her abusive marriage and how she surmounted every obstacle with the power of her faith. Unfortunately, she also told me she was moving to another district. As much as I will miss her, I'm really happy for her. Plus, mystically, I got word that yet another young woman has manifested in my district. My ichinen seems to be in the right place. There's still that little matter of them actually attending meetings, but we'll sort that out later.

Monday Morning:
Homevisit from my vice-HQ leader. Lots of daimoku and a lovely chat plus some study. I have a really deep relationship with this lady. She's been the leader of that Core team I mentioned above for almost the entire year (now someone else took up that responsibility) and has supported me in many ways. Plus she's Gluten free like me and is always insanely appreciative of my gluten free cooking experiments. I wave her goodbye, a gluten free carrot muffin in hand, close the door and realise I have completely forgotten to discuss with her the two things I wanted to: Gohonzon receiving forms and the Chapter meeting I'm trying to organise. Ah, well.

Monday Evening:
My district is down to support Shakubuku Monday, a lovely activity at the Buddhist centre. We don't have a lot of notice, but then I'm on holiday so I accept because I know that even if everyone else is busy I can always do it myself.
Everyone else is busy. Three days of lilacing in a row!!!

I stayed at home all day because I was waiting for the contractor to fix our heating. At around 7pm I was chatting with my flatmate in my room and someone knocks at the door. It was my women's leader. Yup, I had completely forgotten that we had our district leader's toso that evening.

Wednesday morning:
Went homevisiting my HQ leader who recently had a baby. I manage to hold the baby for about one minute. I have to say, they are cute little objects, but I don't really feel drawn to have my own. This time I have a list of what I want to discuss. After the visit I decide to try one of the nice little places in the area for lunch and I have the BEST spit roast chicken with chips I have ever had. I spent an hour in the world of ecstasy. 

Wednesday evening:
A new Woman in my district came to chant at my place and we did a Gongyo lesson. I hadn't done a Gongyo lesson since I taught my auntie how to do Gongyo, which was quite a few years ago. I really enjoyed it. There's something about just reading Gongyo rhythmically that is always refreshing. And you always find that little detail you realise you were doing wrong, what with chanting superfast or acquiring bad habits in general. And we actually did Gongyo after the lesson! Well chuffed.

Thursday morning:
I homevisit one of the YW District leaders in my Chapter to talk about my little plan of doing a YW Chapter meeting next month. Everyone seems to be happy with the idea and this lovely lady offered her house to host.

Friday morning:
I finally go to my friend's toso. She's been doing this toso for years now, Monday Wednesday and Friday from 7.30 to 9. Unfortunately due to my job I can only go when I'm on holiday, but with the homevisits I could not go to the previous two. The toso was lovely, as usual.

Saturday morning:
I went to the study meeting in preparation for the study exams. I have been writing a lot about my exam preparation. The Chapter leader in charge could not be present and he seemed to believe I could lead the meeting in his place, so I kinda did. I thought the section we were going to study was Section C, which was my bete noire, so the day before I braced myself and finally got around to do it. In the end the section was actually Section D, my absolute favourite, so it was easier than expected.

Saturday afternoon:
I went to my first cycling lesson. I've never been able to cycle. I can't ride or drive absolutely anything. Recently I decided to start going out of my comfort zone and do things I deemed impossible. Who knows, maybe by challenging myself this way I will manage the utter impossible task of finding a girlfriend. The lesson was great, I absolutely loved my instructor, and I only fell twice!

Saturday evening:
A healthy dose of English pubs and new friends. Never hurts.

I did a Dedicated Lilac activity in SLNC, supporting Kosen Rufu Gongyo and the Gohonzon receiving. It was my fourth Gohonzon receiving Dedicated activity. I really enjoyed it. We were three lilacs down but we didn't feel it at all, mainly because our Lilac Chief was awesome, and finally I got to do the part where the lilac accompanies the new members to receive their Gohonzon. The other three times I was always on duty somewhere else (mainly refreshments) and never did that.

And that, people, is how a Nichiren Buddhist spends her Half term holiday.
I conclude with an absolutely random remark. I love comments on my blog. They make my day.
(please comment. Please)

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