Reflections of Hawaii
Sunset/Sunrise Services by Nikki Ryu
Waking up at 5:30AM to do a 5:40AM service was, for lack of better words, brutal. But oh, was it worth it. Sleepy nineteen youth ministers’ assistants and five adult advisors chant Juseige to the rising sun. As the ancient chanting words slip past our monotone-crested lips, prisms fill the dew blanketed grass surrounding us and though it is easy to miss, there exists an unquestionable energy amongst us. Back in Sacramento, at the second YMA “Bootcamp” training, I had thought 7AM service was bad, and I had complained… we all had. But here we are, an hour and twenty minutes earlier than before, performing a service for no one but ourselves and the complaints were unconsciously silenced as these once-in-a-lifetime moments of magic unfolded. The morning sermons were completed in revealing secrets of the past, hopes for the future and reminders about the present through individual sermons. And as the service ended, we felt an entire day awaiting us.
In the evening, here again we find ourselves at the end of the otherwise ignored daily cycle, saying goodbye to the sun. On the beach we prepare an altar in the sand as we circle round a small incense burner. This is a reminder that Buddhism can be practiced anywhere, anytime, with anyone… We are reminded of its universality through travel, appreciation of natural beauty and the recitation of the Nembutsu. And as the sunsets behind us, we embrace each other through moments of reflection and NamoAmidaButsu.
Spending the week with Friends by Nikki Ryu
Who better to spend your last weeks of summer with than a family of friends? Though I already knew many of the other YMA’s, I found myself making introductions to a few members whom I had never met before arriving in Hawai’i. It was great reconnecting with old friends as well as becoming great friends with new ones. The 10 days were the highlight of my summer vacation, though the schedule was packed with travelling, visiting hongwanjis, giving presentations and answering questions, we still were allocated a few hours here and there to just be with each other and enjoy the company of our friends. There were times when I thought that this was pretty much as good as life gets; learning and experiencing Buddhism in a beautiful place with beautiful people. We are so fortunate to have BCA’s support in our endeavors and I think we did a great job of spreading YAC love all around Oahu. I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about how Buddhism isn’t something that you just learn, it’s something you experience. Further, I learned that the best way to live in Buddhism is to experience it with people you love; people who can harbor those memories and help bolster your network of “Buddhies.” I had a great time experiencing Buddhism with the YMA’s and our wonderful advisors and I thank them for making those great memories that inevitably last a lifetime. Whether I’m talking about the friends I came with, the friends I made along the way, or the friends I left with, I’ll always know I’m talking about and embracing members of my BCA family.