People’s eyes fall on me. I can feel them. All of them judging. I prepare to walk down the main aisle surrounded by the members of my sangha chanting while I carry a tray with three crystal cups filled with tea for offerings to the shrine. “Have you done this before?,” the main attendant whispers to me.
She motions for me to cover my mouth with my shawl and leans into my ear and whispers “it’s about intention. It’s okay to mess up.”
I nod and carefully balancing the tray. My mind rushes.
Oh God, don’t let this tray fall. Shit, God has nothing to do with this. Fuck, Sam, you need to stop swearing there are monks here. There are a lot of monks here today. I wonder what they think of Seattle? I’ve never seen that monk before. Wonder how he like the U.S. Crap I think my fly is down. Please let my shawl cover this. They are watching me. They know.
We walk to the shrine she leans over and asks “Which level of the shrine do I put the tea on?” These things are important in Buddhism. I’m not sure why, but it is vital.
“I have no clue.”
She places it on the first level with the help of the head lama. This is going to be okay.
We walk to the window and place the second cup of tea and walk past the monks. They aren’t even looking at us. Maybe they didn’t see that my fly is down. Clearing my mind. Last cup of tea is in place. I turn and face the sangha. They are chanting. No one is looking at me. We walk back. She smiles at me. We did it.
At the end one person comes up to me with a question. They seem to have gotten the impression I know what is going on around here. Another comes forward to saw that he told me a long time ago I should volunteer to do this. I smile.
No one saw my fear.
No one cared if I messed up.
No one judged.
It was all me.
I could have messed it all up and it would have been okay. It is about intention. It is okay to mess up.