The gathering for the ritual send-off of the Patra Passage vessels was at once a celebration and a reverent contemplation of an important experience in the lives of us assembled. The participants and guests arrived and approached the first Passage in as varied ways as the 108 displayed vessels. Some approached with excitement greeting others with enthusiasm and reaching eagerly to examine and hold vessels and wondering aloud, ‘which vessel is mine”? Others entered quietly as if entering a sacred place, watching and wondering in anticipation that the evening would bring a gift, even a blessing to all. The mix of young and old, exuberant and quiet, activity and stillness, caused this participant to watch and savor the gift passing among and between all of us present even before a vessel had been given. When Lynda convened us with singing bowl, all grew silent and were united in their quiet readiness to accept the gift being given. Some closed their eyes. Others exchanged smiling glances. Some nodded in understanding. As Lynda thanked us all and ritually sent the passage in motion by giving this vessel #4 to me, I was deeply aware that this gift will have a lasting impact upon my life. And, I saw that those gathered with me were also recipients of a gift that evening–a gift of pure and simple joy and thanksgiving. This gift, unlike so many material gifts we receive, was enough.
Recently I spent three weeks in solitude in a cabin in the woods. Absent relationships, responsibilities, and all distractions of modern life–no cell phone, computer, TV, radio or newspapers–I had the opportunity for serious self-examination. I brought Patra vessel #4 as my only companion on my journey. It rested on the table where I sat every day writing for hours. The vessel, of course, is symbolic of the soul, so it was fitting that the vessel was silent witness to my journey into soul which took place before it. It is interesting to me that a vessel, without anything apparently in it or held by it is simultaneously empty and full. It is full of opportunity, anticipation and hope. Of course this vessel, given to me as part of the Patra Passage enabled me to participate in the cycle of giving and receiving. Sitting before me, it fulfilled its purpose causing me to reflect upon what my soul is when apparently empty like the vessel before me. As each day passed without external input other than from nature, I continued to empty myself of thoughts and feelings related to my life in the world and in relation to others. I became increasingly aware of the thoughts, emotions, values and beliefs which remained in me and as me when all else was stripped away. I found that by emptying out all those things which crowded into my soul from 63 years of living on this earth, I was actually full–full of a better knowledge of who I am when completely alone. My wife, placed slips of paper into the vessel, brief meditations to aid my contemplation of self and universe. Each day, I removed one and the bowl became “emptier” as it imparted its wisdom to me. In gratitude, I replaced each piece of paper with a small white stone gathered on walks on a nearby beach. And so, Patra vessel #4 and I gave to and received from each other silently and meaningfully each day. The vessel was a comforting symbol to me that even when absolutely alone with no human interaction, the vessel of my soul is not empty, it is full.
Silent Witness I
Silent Witness 2
For more about this experience see an interview with David Madeira by selecting the video interview link on the main menu
How Beautiful! I admire the relationship and connection the two share, it is truly inspiring!
Just reading a new bowl’s story every morning inspires me and prepares me for my own journey with #26. I love the way you exchanged the poems and notes for the white pebbles. Lovely.
What beautiful sentiments and elegant expressions of hope, peace and discovery, David.
In just a few days I will welcome with both excitement and humble appreciation Vessel #4, from my dear friend, David.
I’m looking forward to my personal journey with the vessel and will document it with photos and narrative along the way.
This week I passed vessel #4 to my dear friend, Candida. It was at a dinner in September with Candida, Lynda and other good friends that I realized that it was she who I should pass the vessel to after my time with it. That night we talked about being present, awareness and The Patra Passage’s purpose of creating a community of giving and receiving. I realized that Candida had begun such a cycle in relationship with me a decade earlier and now, through the Patra Passage, I could continue the exchange.
In 2003, I approached Candida, then Director of the New York Internatinoal Auto Show and, as a complete stranger, asked for time to meet with her. In spite of her hectic schedule, she graciously agreed and listened to my vision for a car museum. Then, brazenly I would say, I asked for the opportunity for display space in the Show–the country’s most important auto show. Once again, though I had no credentials and just an idea, she agreed and by her assent placed the Museum on the world’s stage. This was a gift of immeasurable importance to our cause. Later, I prevailed upon her once more and asked if she would give her time, her effort and her expertise by serving as a member of our board of directors. Once more, expecting nothing in return, she agreed and has served faithfully on our board for a decade now.
Until our dinner together, I could never imagine how to adequately thank Candida for her repeated gifts to me and to the Museum over the years. For how does one repay someone who consistently gives of herself so generously? No object, no monetary reward approaches the gift of self. Yet I realized that night that the act of expressing gratitude through the passage of the vessel would be meaningful to Candida. Its sheer beauty, created by Lynda, would call her to solitude and a peaceful place. And it’s passage from me, including her in a community of giving and receiving, would speak to her of our friendship. For in reality, it is in continuous acts of giving and receiving between people that trust, meaningful relationships, important friendships are created.Candida initiated the cycle ten years ago and with this passage, the gift of friendship continues.
It is of particular delight to Lynda and me that Candida received the vessel on the advent of her wedding to Kevin. It is our hope that Vessel #4 will speak to them meaningfully reminding them of the important place daily giving and receiving has in our lives.
I knew that when I passed Vessel #4 on, it would be “bittersweet” to let it go. What I did not realize, but deeply understand now, is that in its leaving it would give back to me yet again as the act of giving caused me to be deeply aware of the gifts I have received over the years from this good friend. And, as it called to me during my retreat into solitude, this vessel and this action brought me back to a place of gratitude.
Vessel #4 arrived at our door a few days ago on the advent of our marriage. It arrived in a simple corrogated box similar to other packages that made their way to our door…however what this particular box held was very different and very much anticipated. I carefully opened the outer box to find another box inside decorated in a subtle, unassuming but elegant way. I knew immediately Lynda had created it. It had the markings of her artistic style and symbolism…I couldn’t wait to see, feel and hold the vessel inside.
As I removed vessel #4 from its beautiful red silk wrap it became clear to me how very unique this vessel was. It was a gift from my dear friend, David, and it had been with him through his very personal and meaningful journey. It held the whisper of his deepest and most introspective thoughts. I realized then that it is both a privilege and a responsibility to receive such a gift. Because it was given with such trust, generosity and friendship it did indeed call me to a meaningful and restful place and will continue to do so during the time it will be with me. I have already placed inside of it my gratitude and appreciation for David’s friendship and the happiness of being able to continue to give and receive blessings as a result. The vessel also holds the spirit of the love between Kevin and I as we took it to our wedding and placed it in an auspicious position of honor. I am looking forward to the peace and tranquility it will give us in the coming weeks.
The Patra bowl is honored to be part of Candida and Kevin’s wedding!
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