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Selfie from the Buddha Fields

Updated: Jan 7

When your prayers are answered but you don't get what want.

Image courtesy of

This is a world where the ground is not the ground but a sea of vortices. They swirl under my feet, everywhere I step.

There is no solid ground of having arrived, or being allowed to rest. I try so hard to be good, and everywhere I look

there’s evidence of failure. Years old dust in the breakfast food cupboard, dirty floors, almost empty water bowls on the altar.

Dying flowers there, too. What must they think of my commitments, these deities? My voice thins and fades mid-vow.

My pleas for help can’t mean much to them, since I didn’t even care enough to sweep the floor, much less sit.

But this feeble voice could be what they listen for. It can’t be a meritocracy, this world of prayer. Sure, they tend to all the stalwart, worthy ones,

but maybe they also cock their heads and shush each other, straining to hear my shy attempts, my fumbling hail mary passes.

Maybe they look down at their phones and see the three pulsating dots, my message mid-composed and full of doubt, my thumb scary close to pressing Send.

“I know I’ve let things go,” I type, “But can you… (autocorrects, backspaces, restarts) can I…just have…a little relief here?”

Yeah, they don’t send relief. But my phone pings, and it’s from them. A group selfie like no other.

Green Tara, her tongue out, wags her hand in a gang sign.

Avalokiteshvara nods to the music in his beats, ballcap backwards, throwing me a wink and a thumbs up, bling bulging on his fingers.

My beloved Thich Nhat Hanh smiles gently the way he does, dances mindfully with his homies.

And the Buddha, tortilla chip crumbs in his lap. He feeds the mutt who found him, a happy hound licking the guacamole off his new friend’s fingers.

I get it.

My moment now is not about relief or hard times. It’s about not taking everything so seriously. I reply with the praying hands and the smiley face emojis.

My guides are actually with me. They've been with me forever. They'll be with me all the way.

They just can’t do it for me.

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