The Story of the Pumpkin Budda
A few months ago, my friend Sally from Montana was visiting us in Hawaii, and she noticed a smallish statue in our garden, sitting amongst the bougainvillea, that is unique and quite the eye-catcher. "What's THAT?" she inquired, with a growing grin.
I gave her the short version of how it came into being... and then the mutual giggles began.
"You must write that up!" was her response... "and send me a picture, too!" Because of the transformative qualities and opportunities that are around us all the time, I share it with you now, just as Sally requested.
Pumpkin Buddha came into being in September, 1989, when we discovered a disfigured garden statue of the Buddha in the overgrown backyard of our rental home in San Diego. The previous tenants had used it for target practice. There were chips blasted out of its torso by pellet guns, and its ceramic head was missing, leaving a bare metal re-bar rod sticking up from the cement body.
My family had recently moved from Hawai'i, where cultural and religious diversity makes for a rich community. We were saddened to see such a display of insensitivity and disrespect for a symbol of peace and compassion. And we took it upon ourselves to make the reparation that was required.
The solution came from our then three-year old daughter, Anna. The family was on a shopping trip, which included a visit to a holiday card and gift shop. Many Halloween items were on display, attracting our little girls' attention. We gave them permission to pick one item each to create a Halloween display at home.
After much consideration, our youngest daughter thoughtfully selected a ceramic jack o'lantern, with an opening underneath to accommodate a small candle. It's expression was happy, not scary, and it fit the purchasing budget, so we acquired it gladly.
Once we were home, Anna carefully unwrapped her selection, then she quietly walked out into the backyard. She placed the small jack o'lantern on top of the Buddha's body, carefully navigating its opening over the metal rod. When she stepped back to admire her creation,
Pumpkin Buddha was revealed.
In those days, the bright orange and green of his head were in great contrast to the subtle beige and gold of the body. Yet over the years, the head has faded and is now very much in keeping with the look of the lower portion.
And - it is a great example of what we call Smiling Meditation.
Pumpkin Buddha remains in our lives, having moved with us four times as we changed households over the last 18 years. It has looked over our gardens and has always attracted animals to its location. Even plants grow in its direction.
Now it is with us in South Kona, and occasionally we turn its head so it can have more than one point of view.
Through it all, Pumpkin Buddha is forever smiling, reflecting Peace - Compassion - and Joy!