Friday, March 23, 2012

On A Wish And A Prayer

I spent the last week in upper New York and Manhattan. What a truly wonderful place to be for many reasons! I did so many things, went to countless places and loved every minute of it, but one special experience stands out above all the rest.

I'd walked into the Guggenheim Museum, late afternoon. There is a small fountain in the generic, contemporary shape of a fish, and as I am always wont to do, I stopped there to toss in pennies and make a wish for myself and two people who were not with me in person, but are always with me in spirit. 

As I was standing there, taking my time and giving careful consideration and thought to my purpose, I could feel that I was being watched, and after tossing in the last penny, I looked to my side and there were three lovely young girls of Asian origin; I'd venture an educated guess at Korean, who were watching me very intently. I knew they were trying to ascertain the scene before them, staring in fascination while trying not to be invasive.

I smiled widely at them to let them know they were welcome to communicate, if they wanted to.

One of them stepped forward bravely as the other two watched with wide eyes and shy smiles. She pointed toward the fountain and asked in her soft, broken English,
"What is it?". I knew she meant, 'What are you doing? What is the purpose of this custom?'

I explained, "I'm making a wish. I throw in the penny and make a wish that I would like to see come true." The young ladies stared silently and I knew the word 'wish' did not register with them. There was another way to explain.
"It is a hope, a prayer.  To hope for something; a job, health, love, luck, anything you want. A prayer for these things."  At this explanation of 'prayer', all the light bulbs above their heads flashed on and they became delighted that they understood it finally... a simple and universal concept... a sacrifice for a prayer or hope... pennies for wishes.
They got it.  They were very happy.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out two dimes and a nickel and handed them each a coin and gestured to the fountain. They went through a quick array of emotion; surprise, honor and humbleness, thankfulness, and then it gave way to serious contemplative prayer. Amidst bowing lowly, smiling and thanking me, they lined up shoulder to shoulder, all three folded their hands; coins in palm, prayed earnestly and one by one opened their eyes and tossed their coins into the fountain.

I watched with absolute pleasure. It brings me such happiness to create bonds with people, to teach and learn, to share joys and break down barriers and this was a very special one. The language challenge was gone. The opportunity to share with each other created a memorable experience for all, and it was serenely sweet to watch them all partake in this simple, heartfelt custom that they knew in a different way.

They turned to me, bowing, grinning, giddy with delight and I offered to use their camera to take a photo of them in front of the fountain, but they all three said no, they wanted a photo of me with them and I complied. We got an image of the four of us together, and I had them make one with my camera, and then they all hugged me tightly and went on their way.

What a truly wonderful blessing to be able to trade a few coins for this priceless memory. It was the best part of the trip.


exskindiver said...

a lovely story.
I can picture this scene.

glad you've been well.

Suburbia said...

Sounds lovely :-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

So lovely and uplifting to read this, and I'm so very happy you made wonderful memories in my home town.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

What a great story!

J at said...

What a lovely story. You have a generous spirit and heart, and when such a spirit finds another, it is a lovely thing. Thank you for sharing with us. :)

Imaginer said...

I thought I was still on heartinsanfrancisco's blog :) Fun to be new to this blogging world ... Love this story. Love wishes, in every form. And random connections. And travel. And those moments that just happen ... I once was walking through the Beatles museum in Liverpool, and the moment I walked into the room with John Lennon's piano, "Imagine" started playing. It was just me, standing there, listening, feeling like it was played for me ... Nobody else came in the room until right after it stopped. A magical experience that I remember vividly more than 15 years later. This post reminded me of it, for some reason. And I haven't thought about it in a long time ... even though my name on here is "Imaginer." Thanks for sparking that memory... Here's to more moments of connection.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Chesca! My goodness I miss you so much! I've been away... will be by to visit your page shortly! Very glad to see you here, old friend!


Suburbia, we must follow our dreams, they are the lifeblood of our lives, no?

Dearest Hearts,

You have called many places 'home', and I am glad to have experienced happy things in a place where you were happy too.

Much love to you


Very nice to see you here! I'll be by after I visit Chesca. The best thing about this story is that it is true! :D


You are one of those sweet spirits as well, and I am quite sure your husband and daughter are as well. I love finding kindred spirits, and I am so blessed to have found so many here.

Hello Imaginer,

That is a *very* special moment. I find myself in moments like that quite often; I leave myself open to them, I watch and listen, and serendipity colors my life with many incredible wonders.
Thank you for coming by!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Maria said...

We had a guest from Japan stay with us for a week, a teacher from our sister city of Shizuoka. We exchanged gifts one evening and he delighted over a horse shoe tie pin that we gave him. He questioned us about the meaning of a horse shoe? Did it mean cowboy? No, we told him, it meant good luck. He finally got it and then told us that in Japan, they give origami for good luck. He made us two beautiful origami frogs and put them on our fireplace when he left. We didn't notice them for two days but when we finally did, we smiled. Good luck is good luck.