Bad News and a Murmuration of Prayers

I’d recently gotten some bad news, and although I fought to avoid it, my mind kept returning there. No matter how many times or how firmly I reminded myself to notice what I was passing as Frank and I walked around the block, like a magnet, the news kept attracting my attention. “Enjoy the morning sun and fresh air, “ I admonished myself. “Look at the red of that Japanese maple’s leaves.” “What about the light playing on that rose?” But, like a dog gnawing on a bone, I kept returning to the bad news.

After a while, not only did I feel down about the news, but I became upset with myself for not being able to practice what ordinarily gives me so much pleasure. So that by the time Frank and I approached the last large block before returning home, I was feeling impotent and glum, an unhappy combination.

As we passed the house with the line of what appear to be a series of exotic drums within a frame, a car pulled up and a woman emerged. For years I’ve mused, off and on, about the significance of the structure, wondering about their purpose. “Can you please tell me what these are?” I asked the woman as soon as she locked her car.

“They are prayer wheels,” she replied, smiling. “Each one is filled with prayers monks have inscribed on tiny pieces of paper. You spin the wheels from right to left, releasing hundreds, maybe thousands of prayers with your own.”

“How lovely!” I exclaimed. Can anyone use them?”

“Of course,” she replied. “That’s why we put them here.”

I could feel myself buoyed by her words. “Thousands of prayers written by monks.”

“Thanks so much,” I told her as Frank and I walked off down the block. And for the remainder of our walk, I felt like a leaf dipping and soaring in the wind.

This morning, once again I was having difficulty shifting my thoughts to something positive. No matter how I tried, I was caught in a swamp of worry and fear. Until I approached the prayer wheels, whose sight alone soothed me instantly. When I arrived in front of them, I stopped, then spun from right to left, imagining prayers flying off like a murmuration of white doves. I remained for about five minutes, spinning and repeating the lovingkindess meditation, then continued my walk home, feeling vibrant and optimistic, a smile playing on my lips, and that flock of white doves following me the whole way.

Tree Bark

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