Itâ€™s the first soft day of spring, okay, late winter–theyâ€™re predicting snow for the weekend. I finished up work as fast as I could so I could get out for a walk and enjoy the weather. After I got home the sun was still highâ€“daylight saving time.
I saw in the paper that there was a show at City Hall, â€˜Hmong in Transitionâ€™ with photos by Prof. Sheila Pinkel. The show included narratives of the Southeast Asian refugee experience and Hmong textile art. I figured there would be a spread. Free food at art openings never fails to delight me. I decided to go there on the bus, which stops right near City Hall. Kennedy Plaza is a kind of performance art in itself, and City Hall is such a museum of architectural excess that I will never in one lifetime appreciate all of its marble inlay and historical murals.
The second floor has a large open gallery, and the photos were up on the walls. I checked out the food and was not disappointed. I looked for the start of the photo narrative and followed the circuit. There were several photos of healing rituals with chickens and pigs being sacrificed to heal a sick two-year-old boy. On the next wall were photos of warning posters against landmines. I was looking at some landscapes when I heard some people talking. â€œI lived there, right under that mountain,â€? a man was saying. Most of the people there were Southeast Asian and dressed up nice.
Prof. Pinkel, the photographer, came up to talk to me. I told her my impression of the animal sacrifice was that I hoped the little guy got better. She said that he did. I said that Colonel Sanders slaughters more chickens in five minutes than all the ritual sacrifices since the dawn of time. I thought the truly scary picture was the landmine poster. She said that they are still being manufactured, which is true.
She is from California, so she did not know Maha Ghosananda. He was the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism. He lived for several years in Providence, on the West End, on Hanover St. I saw him a couple of months ago, when he was here visiting. He was staying with some people in South Providence who were taking solicitous care of him in his illness, and one of them brought him a cup of warm Ensure. He kept handing it to me. After handing it back a couple of times, my Catholic upbringing kicked in and I decided I had better accept it as Holy Communion. I am blessed, and I hope to pass it along as he did. Maha Ghosansanda, saint, has returned to the place we all come from, the place we all go.