Faith mixed with Porridge

Over at my other blog, I wrote about visiting the Lama Temple here in Beijing.  It was the La Ba Festival and the monks were busy making and dishing a special porridge to all who came and waited in the bright, chilly sunshine to be served.

The porridge was delicious, and I will be modifying my recipe over the coming weeks to add more local fruits (Goji berries, jujube dates and beans) to what I currently enjoy.

Attending this festival was high on my priority list ever since I read about the porridge back in September, so I was delighted when it fell on a day that I was free to attend.  On Saturday I had attended a retreat at BICF (Beijing International Christian Fellowship) and I needed to process all that had happened.  This I am still doing, so I will share more about that later.

Waiting in line, I realized that I was the only foreigner in the crowd.  With my very limited Chinese, communication was difficult.  I did mime with a fellow knitter who was showing her friend her mitts and she let me take a picture.  I told the fellows behind me that I was 56 and we became friendly.  They held my spot so I could take a picture of the “kitchen” area.  There was also a brief chat with a young lady who wanted to practice her English.  All of this before the porridge.  Once I had my porridge people wanted to take my picture eating the porridge (which I sipped from the cup I’d brought with me!).  Then someone wanted to give me some of their porridge and I let him  – and suddenly we were surrounded by cameras – a little disconcerting for me, but fun none the less.

All of this is to describe a bit of my experiences on Sunday.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it was a special day and many Buddhists were worshipping.  I felt that it would be disrespectful to be a tourist on that day.  I can always go back when it is warmer.

Coming away from this day I realized two things.  The first came to me when I saw a man prostrate himself on the ground in front of one of the statues.  I find this attitude of prayer difficult – even in private, but I want to be free to do so.  This takes effort.  It means I need to get uncomfortable.  I need to forget myself and focus on my faith.

The second realization was that God does not require all these things from us – the incense, the flowers, the fruit, the prostrations, the ritual.  He loves us freely and we live out our faith in that freedom.  Nothing I do can make Him love me more, or love me less.  I am His beloved and He has written my name on the palm of His hand.  His banner over me is indeed LOVE.

There is a third realization.  While the Buddha statue is indeed smiling, the other four statues are not.  They are rather frightful and angry.  I know that there are things that anger God, but I am not afraid of Him.  I worship not from fear, but from LOVE.  I know I need to learn more about these statues, but for now, I am grateful to be reminded of God’s great love for me, a sinner saved by His grace.



About Marcia Stehouwer

I have a great life (most days) and a small budget, so being frugal is one of my favourite hobbies. I started this blog after procrastinating for 3 months, on April Fool's Day. I knit, I read, I knit, I work... I am also about a quarter of the way through my goal to lose 100 pounds. So between knitting, working, reading etc., I also do some walking! EDIT: 2021. I am not closer to my weight goal, but moving forward. The budget is still small. We are renting our homestead and progressing towards our family dream!
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