|Buddha though the Wat window, Pattaya|
I don't rightly know what it was, exactly, but it moved me to tears.
We all removed our shoes and, with hands in prayer and head down in reverence, the monk splashed us all mightily with water.
It was a bit like being before the Pope, except we were much, much closer. And, neither ashamed nor afraid.
Meanwhile, in the background, one could hear another monk delivering a sermon over the intercom.
From what I could understand from some of the people - my fellow spiritual pilgrims - he was expounding on the story of the Buddha's Enlightenment and how, 2,500 years ago, 1,250 monks who had been ordained by the Buddha simultaneously made their way to see him.
We were to walk counterclockwise around the Wat three times, with a stop off, at some point - if we wished - into the back entrance of the Wat to venerate The Buddha.
The Monks and other 'dignitaries' seemed to be using the front entrance.
It took me about two times 'round before I figured out how it all worked and even then, I wasn't exactly certain.
I was very hesitant to do something wrong and, God forbid, someone would take offense, but I found the Thai people very accommodating and helpful. And, graciously understanding.
So, up the steps I went, into the side of the Temple entrance, where there were statues of Buddha and some of the ancient priests who were his teachers.
I sat on one of the mats and noticed that the noise from outside suddenly disappeared. It was incredibly silent. There were a few people there with me, sitting on their side, hands in prayer, silent.
Clearly, this was a Holy Place.
The woman next to me seemed to hear my thoughts and turned to me, motioning toward the statue of Buddha and nodding her head in approval.
She seemed to be saying, "It's okay. Just pray in your own way."
And so, I did.
I closed my eyes and focused my energy and began to meditate.
I suppose I thought - silly me - that praying in English, even silently, would not be understood by the Buddha (I know, right?), so I began by calling up images of the individual members of my family and asking for health and happiness for each of them.
Then, I called up an image of a dear friend of mine who was to have vascular surgery that day in the States and asked for healing. Then, I called up other images of people I know and love I wanted to hold in prayer for various reasons.
In my mind, I asked for some things. Other times, I simply called them up in prayer, one by one. And, lo and behold, there they were. In front of me.
The thing of it is, I could see each of them clearly before me. Indeed, the clarity was rather startling. It was not just a still image. It was as if they were really there, in front of me....although, not. It was like an apparition but of a person who was not dead but quite alive.
It was at about that point, when I was trying not to be startled or scared about what I was seeing, that I had the thought, "I wonder if the Buddha and Jesus really do walk together, as some say."
Just then, I had an image of Jesus before me. Not the image of what I like to call "the high school yearbook" picture of Jesus. You know the image: shoulder-length dirty-blonde hair, light skinned, 3/4 profile, with back lighting for dramatic effect.
Not that Jesus. It was one I had never seen much less imagined but instantly knew that it was Jesus. Of this, there was no doubt in my mind. He looked more like a small, lean, leathery-skinned, wiry Palestinian Jew. He was smiling and nodding his head.
I felt nothing but love and deeply at peace.
It was at that point that I realized I was weeping. I don't know why, really. I wasn't scared. I was oddly at peace and profoundly comforted.
It felt so wonderful, there seemed to be nothing else to do but weep. Not sobbing dramatically or anything. Just letting the tears flow.
The women on either side of me were suddenly by me. They seemed to know that I had just had a deeply spiritual experience. They helped me to my feet and the walked with me one while I walked the last time 'round the Wat. All the way 'round they smiled and patted my arm.
This one had an image of The Buddha surrounded by some other ancient teachers.
Again, the silence in the shrine was astounding.
This was unmistakably a Holy place.
People were purchasing small foils of gold which they attached to the statue before and after praying.
I'm not sure of the significance of the gold foil but Rob says that when one of the priests comes to visit in your home, they leave several around the door way entrance.
Indeed, we passed a few homes and shops and restaurants on the way home which had gold foil around the doors. The Monks have obviously been making the rounds and making some pastoral calls.
I suppose the gold foil is a sign of some value and worth - perhaps about that place or perhaps because a holy person has made a visit. I've not been able to find any information on Google and this is way beyond my abilities with Thai or most Thai I know to explain it to me in English.
It doesn't matter, really. As the Buddhists teach, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
Which may have been why Jesus appeared to me last night at the Wat.
I don't know what any of it means, really. I'm almost hesitant to write about this lest some of you fear I've gone right 'round the bend.
I only know what I know and saw what I saw and felt what I felt. And, I know it was true and real to me as well as I know my own name - even if I don't understand it all yet. .
This was a different side and experience of Jesus than I've had in all the years I've tried to walk with Him and follow in His way.
Here's what I've come to understand about it all: I have been in love with Jesus for most of my life and that will never change - except it has. I seem to love Jesus even more. I think, because of Buddha, I'll be even closer to Jesus.
Indeed, I found myself singing all the way home "Day by day. Day by day. Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly. Love thee more dearly. Follow more nearly. Day by day."
Or, as the Buddha teaches, "It is better to travel well than to arrive".