Early Sunday morning in SC. Doug was on waffle-cooking duty, so Walt and I went for a walk around the lake. It started as an opaque journey, with spots of sunlight peeking through. The day had not yet made up its mind to be cloudy or light.
Through the mist came a man in a green coat. He was walking a large white dog.
Walt and The Big White Dog sniffed each other, wagging tails. The man pointed down through the woods to Doug's front door. "I like your prayer flags." he said. "I am a Taoist." He pronounced the word as "dow-ist," an indication the fellah knew something about it.
The prayer flags that caught his attention are called lung ta, meaning "wind horse" in Tibetan. They are horizontal squares of color, sewn along their top edges to a heavy-duty string. They come in five colors, each representing a natural element: blue/white symbolizing sky/space, white/blue symbolizing water, red symbolizing fire, green symbolizing wind/air, and yellow symbolizing earth.
Traditionally, prayer flags are used to pass blessings, such as happiness and good health, to all beings. The "wind horse" carries the blessings high into the sky as an offering to the gods, and then blows them to the people who hang the flags, their families, loved ones, neighbors, and enemies throughout the world.
The man and I talked about the gift of silence and the importance of centering self. He told me he tries to meditate at night, when he can't sleep. How his father died recently, and that he can't stop thinking about it.
"We are all energy," I told him. "We continue to come back, in some form, to participate in the world." And I talked about how each life we have gives us one chance to be who we are this time around. And that next time life's energy will rearrange for us to be someone, and somewhere, else. So we should enjoy this bunch of energy while we can.
His eyes brightened. "I have always thought that too," he said. And then he told me about a book called God's Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon series. The book's message: God created the universe and everything in it. After this was done, God was no longer challenged, so he blew himself up (The Big Bang), ensuring his particles, his energy, went everywhere to land on, and become part of, everything.
The Wind Horse story, revisited once more.
We walked on, parting company where the geese gather for handouts of bread, and the ducks stand in the middle of the road to quack their displeasure at cars just trying to get by.