"Young monks at Drepung Loseling Monastery in India have little parental support," the pamphlet begins. Well, my goodness! How could I resist filling out the paperwork to become a sponsor? I mean when my ageing Inner Mother Figure hears "little parental support," it springs to its feet, waves both hands in the air, and implores the Universe -- "Send me in, Coach!" So reply I did, check included. Then came the waiting.
I of course had to immediately share the happy news with my granddaughters, Annabella (7) and Evelyn (5), giving each of them a bracelet made in Tibet and making sure they new the name of the once-upon-a-time country. Later that day I heard AB saying to EV, "... and Gramma is adopting a musketeer!"
Close enough, for a first go at it.
So today I received a picture of Konchak Jonpa. He resembles the cute little boy on the cover of the original pamphlet I perused, although I estimate an age difference between them of about twenty years. Konchak was born in 1985. So there goes my cuddling fantasy. It's just as well, since careful consideration leads me to believe monks don't cuddle, not even with an ageing Inner Mother Figure.
Sponsorship money goes into a general fund for the welfare of the entire monastery, so all monks receive equal benefits and none are left out. This makes my ageing Inner Mother Figure smile approvingly. If only the rest of life could be so simple. Twenty-six seems fine with me, and while there's so much more I'd like to know about Konchak, I will not ask. He is, after all, representative, not real -- in the sense that he won't be flying to the US to spend the holidays with us, and we certainly won't be visiting the monastery in India -- that sort of thing.
I've previously been leery of donating to charities for two reasons: one, the uncertainty of exactly where my money will end up and two, there are so many charities, how does one choose? I've always had a fascination with Tibet, a reverence for its ancient culture, and in recent years (I admit it) a wee crush on the Dali Lama. When I recently attended a performance by Tibetan Monks demonstrating their dances, songs, and chants, I was touched deeply by the realization that this facet of humanity is in real danger of annihilation. If my monthly check doesn't forestall such a drastic fate, at least it can help put food on the table to sustain those who are devoted to a life of peace, wisdom and compassion.
My use of humor in writing of the commitment I've made is not meant to imply that I don't take it seriously. I do. Konchak's picture will be framed and hung on my family photos wall. It is, in truth, not a photo of a man or even of a monk, it is a reminder to me that there is hope for humankind. There is a place on this earth far from my home where, though life is hard, young men don't cross the street to join a gang. They cross the Himalayas to join a monastery.
For more info: www.drepung.org