exploring phnom penh in the early evening, we stumble across a small wat and wander into the courtyard to take a few photos as the sun sinks behind the stupa. a little old man beckons to us from the shadows of the main temple and towards a small gate at the back. we follow him through the gate and he leads us to a small locked shrine, which he opens. we shed our sandals at the entrance, and duck our heads under the low threshold. suddenly we find ourselves in a tiny stone vault with a simple altar headed by a golden buddha, adorned with flowers. as we kneel respectfully in the cool dark quietude, the old man tells us that the blocks of the vault are stones brought from angkor wat – he lights candles and provides us with two sticks of burning incense, which we offer at the foot of the statue, the sweet smell quickly filling the air, mingling with the perfume of the flowers, casting a glow on the buddha. the old man begins to chant in khmer, as the smoke swirls towards the ceiling and the candles flicker, the gold reflecting the light. and then he is sprinkling us with water as he chants the words by heart, blessing us with humble sincerity, offering prayers for peace or love or charity, reciting the desires of earnest and pure faith which one need not understand in order to feel deeply, be moved by, be grateful for.

and with a small bow of thanks, we exit into the descending dusk, the evening which has grown surprisingly darker, but infinitely richer.

3 Responses to “blessed”

  1. k
    June 30th, 2006 12:53

    I got the chills reading this. What an incredible time for you both and how lucky to have these wonderful encounters throughout your trip. Your writings as always are terrific and describe all you are experiencing and seeing beautifully. Thanks for the card, it’s great and on the fridge! I check daily and love reading how you are both doing and about where you are. Be safe. k

  2. Nicole
    June 30th, 2006 15:09

    what a lovely gift.

  3. DAS
    July 1st, 2006 13:47

    wow. what a great vignette. do you know which wat? where/whta part of pp?

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