Sunday, April 16, 2017
I was walking with the Busó - men in fantastically carved, horned masks, wearing sheep skin cloaks - in the small Hungarian town of Mohács.
Mohács is situated on the Danube across the border from Croatia. The Hungarians were defeated there by the Turks in 1526 at the Battle of Mohács. The Nation was occupied by Ottoman Turks for one hundred and fifty years.
Busójárás - walking with the Busó - is a curious blend of pre-Lenten Carnival; farewell to winter/welcome to Spring; and re-creation of a 16th century legendary battle. It was then that the Mohács townspeople, amidst a fierce storm and dressed in the frightening attire, scared the occupying Ottoman troops away and thus regained their freedom and their town.
Over the years, the confluence of these strands coalesced into today's fantastic Mohács Farshang (Carnival) . In 2009, UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage event.
On the night of Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) - the final day of Carnival - winter is placed inside a coffin and the Busó send it off in flames amidst a large bonfire in the center of town.
The town is liberated, winter is dealt a final blow, spring is welcome and Lent begins.
Friday, April 14, 2017
Sakura: Japanese for cherry.
Hanami: Japanese for gathering together and viewing the transient beauty of cherry blossoms.
Yozakura: Marveling them while illuminated in the night.
The Buddhist doctrine of impermanence is seamlessly entwined with Japanese floral aesthetics.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Many years after walking in the footsteps of St. James along the Camino de Santiago from The French Pyrenees to Galicia in Western Spain, I more recenltly walked across Japan's Kii Peninsula to complete the Kumano Kodo. UNESCO has designated these two long distance trails as World Heritage pilgrimage routes. Those who complete both are recognized as Dual Pilgrims. Taking my first steps on the Way of Saint James in 2000, one can say that I took seventeen years to complete the journey across Spain's Christian Medieval pilgrimage route and on through the thousand year-old Japanese Shinto-Buddhist pilgrims' path. In truth, I am still walking the Way.
Friday, December 23, 2016
Sunday, May 1, 2016
I flew over the Bering Sea, taking the Polar route to the fabled city of Kathmandu - reading Thomas Merton's Asian Journal as he reflected on "the utter happiness of life on a plane." I look out the window and was blessed by one of those transcendent views astronauts describe; a glimpse into the eternal. It was a remarkably perfect moment.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
The Japanese tradition of viewing (hanami) cherry blossoms (sakura) in appreciation of their ephemeral beauty and delicate impermanence (mono no aware) can produce a kind of gentle sadness in the viewer. The artistry of the soft and fallen petals caught my eye.