Barbara Prose - currently the ministerial intern with the UU Church of the Monterey Peninsula - was awarded the UUA's 2009 Tsubaki Grand Shrine Scholarship. For two weeks in October she lived and worked at the Shrine, and had a deeply meaningful interfaith experience there.
A wise and dear friend taught me this old German saying, “Barbara, remember,” he said, “The soul travels on foot.” Well, it will be a week tomorrow that I have been back from Japan and I fear my soul is still swimming somewhere far from shore in the depths of the Pacific, unsure if it should follow and try to catch up and into my body. Instead my wandering soul seems to be wondering if it would not be wiser to return to the wakeiseijaku of Japan and lure my body back to the enchanted island shrine called Tsubaki so that body, mind and spirit could wake up together and find themselves again in heaven.
Is it the pickled radish, tempura, fish, squid and seaweed that lure me? I doubt it as I feel my intestines and stomach readjust daily to my Western diet of more water and less tea, more fresh produce and less rice. What sense can I make of the fact that I miss sweeping every morning with the priests? How do I understand the fact that the world I see is now more ravishingly beautiful and that I did not see this Beauty before.
In 200 words I cannot tell you how or why. I can only tell you it is so. And I can recommend that you go and live for yourself the power of the Old Ways as they are carried into our modern world on the backs of priests who stand before us as human bridges across whom the wisdom of the past is carried.
You are welcome to read Barbara's complete report of her experience. And, enjoy the photos that she brought back with her.
UU seminarians attending non-UU theological schools are welcome to apply for the Scholarship in 2010.