Last Saturday, on my way up the Mt. Woodson trail, a Buddhist monk passed me heading the other direction.
Later, as I finally made my way back down, I came across a clutch of prayer flags placed atop a boulder. I assume the orange-robed monk left them there, but I can’t be sure. What I have since learned is that prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. Tibetan Buddhists believe these prayers will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion into the surrounding environment.
I received peace, an appreciation of the rough beauty of my surroundings, my concerns about completing the hike abating with each step down the hill.
I received compassion, for myself and my limitations, and for my dog who was a faithful and willing companion on the trail.
I received strength, both of spirit for having spent the afternoon in a beautiful and challenging place and of body, discovering a small but steady resurgence of my physical well-being as I neared the end.
I received wisdom, having bathed in the humility of my limitations during the final hour of my ascent, a fresh awareness that my core responsibility at all times is to offer the best that I’ve got.
These timely prayers, washing over me as I passed by, were a welcome reminder of the physical and spiritual generosity that always surrounds us. They were freely given and happily received.