Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bless You

I am always looking for new and exciting local events to attend with the family.  Mid-September, I saw this post come through my Facebook feed:

Tibetan monks visiting SuperFarm Oct 9th. Animal blessings/Tibetan Chants, and more going on

Ummmm, can you say excited?  Tibetan monks were coming to town and would be doing an animal blessing at one of my local favorites, Superstition Farm!  This was something that Zooey the Devil Dog and I had to experience.
Now, Zooey is a wonderful, loving dog and a great running buddy, but she is... um... well... a little excitable, so I was a touch worried about taking her out in public (running along the canal doesn't count).  But this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime type of experiences, and I had hoped that this could be a fantastic family outing.
However, our lawn sprinklers decided that today was a fantastic day to crap out, so Scott and HRH stayed home to fix them (well, Scott did that, not HRH; she has to wait until she's 4 for that) while I threw Zooey in the truck and headed out to Mesa (I know - I took my dog and not my daughter.  But it was an animal blessing, and since HRH is almost 3, I knew that I wouldn't be able to wrangle both of them at the same time) after going for an almost 7 kilometer run along to burn off as much of that crazy coonhound energy as possible.  I am bummed that this wasn't that family experience, but I am determined that we will make others.
When we got there, everyone was still setting up, as apparently there had been a bee incident earlier in the day that caused things to go a little off schedule, but you know what was great about it?  NO ONE CARED.  There was not a single person there (no one asked the dogs) who was upset that things didn't start "on time."  Everyone was just enjoying the fabulous fall-ish weather, the sunny day, and the positive atmosphere that overflowed.  I'm pretty sure the SuperFarmTruck that was serving its ever-tasty fare helped, too.  While the monks and volunteers worked to make everything ready, Zooey and I checked out the sights (and for her, the smells) at the farm.

The goats were as suspicious of Zooey
as she was curious of them.
"Doesn't that wool get hot in the summer?"
"OOOOOOH!  Can I chase it??????  Can I?  Can I?"
Toby the Farm Dog wasn't super thrilled to meet Zooey.
If I had my various parts sniffed by a stranger, I'd likely feel the same.
The cows were extremely curious about all the dogs
and came up to the fence many times.
They were a little intimidating for Zooey, but she HAD to sniff.
"Oh, hay!  What are moo doing?"
The horse could have cared less
about the dogs AND being blessed.
Then we went into the barn for the blessing.  Surprisingly, Zooey was pretty quiet, considering there were plenty of vocal dogs there.  But she often gets overwhelmed in group situations - when I take her to UKC hunts, she rarely raises her voice unless she is in a heat (land or water) and after that pelt.  I'm sure that all of the new sights and smells were totally overstimulating her doggie brain.
We weren't the first to be blessed, so we were able to watch those who went before us, including these two, who apparently get into their fair share of shenanigans at the farm.

Then it was our turn.  I am appreciative of the volunteer who offered to take some photos for me.

The blessing consisted of the monk chanting and ringing a bell, and he then sprinkled water on Zooey three times (she wasn't a fan, nor were most of the other animals we watched).  At the end, as he continued to chant, he sprinkled grains of rice, which is an important part of many offerings and blessings in the Buddhist faith.
I'm not sure Zooey realized the intensity of the situation, as she felt the need to bark for the duration.
She did the same on the hayride we took afterwards.  I think she was just so excited to hear that a calf had just been born about an hour earlier and wanted to tell it "Happy birthday!"

I finally dragged the two of us home after obtaining a small hand-carved wooden turtle for HRH and some farm fresh (literally) milk and cream.  Five minutes after we got him, this is what Zooey looked like:

She was exhausted.  I could have used a nap myself, but since HRH has been practicing a little civil disobedience in the daytime sleep cycle arena, that wasn't about to happen.
It's events like this that really make me think hard about where I make my purchases and how I spend my time.  While I'm not sure I can give up Target (especially while a certain someone is still wearing training pants to bed at night), I am working harder to incorporate local businesses into my everyday decisions, whether it's buying milk and vegetables or obtaining a new book.  The more I can support my local businesses like Superstition Farm, the more I can enjoy local events such as this one.  It's kind of like making a PBS pledge - I have to support it if I want to continue to enjoy and take advantage of it.
I am extraordinarily grateful to  everyone at Superstition Farm for opening its doors to everyone for this special event.  I'm not sure I can love this place any more than I already did before today, but if it's possible, I do.  I can't wait to come back out again (and again).
I am also so thankful to the Tsawa Monks who are touring the United States through May of 2012 in order to educate us about Tibetan Buddhism and culture.  These monks are from the Gaden Jangste Monastery in south India, which is on land that was given to over 150 Tibetan monks after they had to flee Tibet.  I express my most sincere thanks to these men who are sharing their faith and their lives with us.
If you weren't able to come to the farm today, the monks are still in the Valley - Friday they will be at Unity Church in Mesa with an all-day sand mandala, chants, blessings, and more.

***I spoke with one of the photographers who was there today (they were all volunteers - how awesome is that????).  The photos will hopefully be in the Arizona Republic and on the azcentral website on Wednesday, so look for a fairly well behaved coonhound in the slide show!

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