Students Opening Up
We entered the chapel of the school onto a comfy carpet and removed our shoes as we do in a Vedic custom. Tommy Valookaran, the chaplain of the building at St. Mary Secondary School, was gracious.
"Would it be alright for us to move the chairs to the side, opening up the space?" I asked him.
"Sure, when the students arrive, I'll ask them."
When the thirty-five or so Grade 11 young men and women arrived, I could sense they were feeling a different space. We did make the space clear. We asked them to sit on the floor. We introduced ourselves, Madehavendra, Uttamananda and I dressed in our bhakti attire. We explained the get up, our lifestyle, our philosophy, the individual circumstances that lead us to our becoming monks. We then engaged them in chanting first with OM.
This rhymes with HOME. I asked them to repeat, "There's no place like HOME." They did. "Now repeat, 'there's no place like OM!'" They followed that very well and with my lead elongated the OM. Then we embarked on chanting the maha mantra "Hare Krishna!" From there we danced and also engaged them in stretching with salutations to the sun (even though it was overcast and raining outside). You have to believe surya, the sun is there.
What's always interesting about adolescents is that as wonderful as they are, they do live in a teeny (as in tiny) world with not yet too much experience. That will come though in time. They will work there way out of the box.
Just by having them stare at us with interest and hear us helped to break down walls. When I merely mentioned about my leaving on Friday for a 4th walk across Canada there walls may have come tumbling down, at least in a dream-like mode. Questions shot out about our way of being. About 50% of the queries had to do with the life as a walking monk. They were opening up.