Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ciara's Visit, Part I

With a bit of prodding and after a fair amount of what my family calls dithering, Anne has agreed to let Ciara come visit for the weekend, which has delighted me no end, in large part because I think this is the first time Anne has allowed Ciara to go anywhere without her, and because I get to finally spend some time just hanging out with Ciara, who I think suspects her visit may be more exciting than I can provide. After innumerable e-mails, I called Anne yesterday morning to light a fire under her in terms of her making arrangements for Ciara to hop on Amtrak and determine just how long Ciara would be permitted to stay (Monday afternoon).

Chris and I retrieved Ciara at Penn Station this morning, in the midst of some normal rainy April weather. Ciara, however, is really fantastic; we traipsed all throughout Chinatown in the rain, got a bit damp, but survived. We stopped off for lunch at a Vietnamese place (although by that time Ciara had already had a strawberry smoothie and half of Chris' bubble tea, which I suspect rendered her too full for lunch) before heading back to the subway.

On our way back to the subway, though, I spotted the Mahayana Buddhist Temple, which, according to Google, is the largest Buddhist Temple in New York City. Ciara and I investigated, and I have to admit it was pretty cool. Just quiet, but not devoid of people and some quiet chatter. In walking in, we saw a couple people (one of whom was using incense sticks) praying to a Buddha, and in walking further in we saw the main chamber, which included an impressively large Buddha (which I now wished I had walked up closer to), chairs surrounding a long table, mats for people to sit on, and the story of the historical Buddha, and a rather decorated area surrounding the giant Buddha. I wish I could have been permitted some video footage, which was not permitted (although I certainly understand why). It was very peaceful, and I wished I understood more about what the correct behavior was, aside from the "noble silence" one of the signs requested. I haven't spent much time in other houses of worship - only one Protestant church that I can think of; an occasional synagogue; scores of Catholic churches - but this was so foreign to me as to make me unsure of proper behavior aside from the normal respect I would give it.

It's not a great day for being outside, so I think we're relegated inside for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday Mass, of course, and we have dinner reservations at the Plattduetsche Park Restaurant for their annual Easter dinner; Elizabeth has agreed to come in from Brooklyn to have dinner with us. (I'm glad for that, this year; since we no longer have family gatherings for Easter, I find just how much I miss those parties.)

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