The vessel has moved from place to place in our living room always near some other beautiful object, generally brought home from one of trips abroad. Baskets, figures, images, paintings, prints that carry memories of the journey.
It eventually found its way to the dining room, at the base of a hand-carved Buddha we purchased at Angkor Wat a few years back, and it seemed to be where it belonged. At a dinner party for 16 guests in the same dining room, we ended the meal by passing the vessel around the table, each guest sharing the story of a gift that had been meaningful to them in their lives, imagining their story being put into the vessel each held reverently, as an offering to the giver of the gift, while they recalled their memories.
First was a story of Christmas ornaments, given each year by each member of the family to the others, with a particular memory from many years ago of a rocket ship with a hollow note inside it, on which a wish was written. Another, an identical twin, recalled the gift of silently eating ice-cream cones on his front porch on the high plains, watching “chin high grass” in the night breeze with a father whose profession caused him to be away for long stretches. One spoke of the gift of a brother who, during the pain they shared over the untimely death of their father, made a promise to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. There was the story of a young woman who had gone homeless in high school, her family victimized by the scourge of addiction, and who was generously taken into the home of a caring pastor who made saved her life and made her college education possible. A first-generation pre-med student told of the many sacrifices of her parents, determined to make it possible for her to go to college. Another was stunned when she was informed she was the recipient of a scholarship set up a few years earlier to memorialize the tragic death of her best friend, an outdoor adventurer, now feeling her companion’s life living on in her own. We heard about the dramatic impact of an encouraging word from a teacher, a simple thank-you note from a stranger, a visit from a friend at the right moment that made all the difference.
When, at last, the vessel landed in my hands, now full of these stories of gifts given and received (each of which had seemed to shift the course of a life), I felt this evening had been the great gift we had been given. And I recalled those who had made it possible for us to come to this place and be part of these stories—what a gift. Now full of all these memories given to those gathered at our table, the vessel came to rest at the foot of the Buddha, whose hand gesture, as I understand it, means “calling the earth to witness.”
For more about this experience with Ron Thomas, please select the video interview link on the main in menu.
These are such amazing, yet fully realistic stories of what the gift is about!! If we each continue to share these words of how we are affected by humanity and the changes we face in our lives, perhaps the gift of the patra is realized in the best way!!
Thank you for this!!!
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