One of the best moments when I am volunteering is meeting familiar faces even though I do not exactly know them by name. This happened 2 weeks ago during the Grand Puja at MBS (organised by Gaden Shartse Dro-Phen Ling) when Zong Rinpoche was in town for the very first time. Being stationed at the booth all the time literally means devotees will come to me instead of me approaching them.
Over the years, I always meet the 'regulars' who appear only during the Grand Pujas as well as those I meet every weekend. Truly I'm thankful for and rejoice in their generosity in contributing to the Dharma. My very first 'regular' devotee on the very first day of the event every Grand Puja would always be this lady named C. She would look for me and always contributed $500 or more, without fail.
From the previous event, I remember a shabbily dressed thin old man wearing a cap who took a long time to unwrap his money from a tightly wrapped little plastic bag inside his worn and torn wallet. To my surprise he eventually forked out $50. This time round, he was here again, exactly the same, slow in movement but so generous in contributing his part. Besides money, he even sponsored a wealth vase upon my recommendation. I'm really touched by his support.
Perhaps the most heartwarming experience this time would be the White Bearded Uncle. During the previous event, I had a hard time with him. Accompanied by a younger lady, the old uncle was edgy and sarcastic, asking me many questions. This time, I could not recognise him until the kind lady besides him asked me smilingly, "do you remember him?" .... It took me just a few seconds and looking at White Bearded Uncle, I exclaimed, "Oh yes!!! I remember you, uncle! The uncle who scolded me!", and I laughed. White Bearded Uncle gave me a huge happy smile. He was incredibly nice this time and I made a friend. I guess they realised the benefits and merits of attending all the pujas in this grand event and I am happy they came back.
Another acquaintance sent me a touching message in Whatsapp, thanking me for introducing her to a Rinpoche who is truly a great master and she found peace and joy at having found her guru finally. I have had many random friends/acquaintances whom I met thanking me for introducing kind gurus to them either from my blog or through our conversations. And whenever we meet, they would share with me their wonderful experience and they would sometimes shower me with little gifts or food/snacks or holy objects. It makes me feel truly blessed and thankful.
All these encounters cannot compare to the material success/happiness, or the downs and disappointments we experience in the other aspects of our life. Sometimes it is ironical that those people who are strangers whom we do not know personally appear to be the most kind and supportive. When close friends or loved ones are supportive of you, it is kind of 'expected'. But when strangers are supportive, it is one of the greatest joys one could ever feel. Sometimes we don't even have the support of those we love so much, yet we get so much love and respect from those we don't even know. In fact, getting the 'endorsement' from strangers beats not getting the support from close ones a 100-times more. I hope to be able to continue to realise these simple joys and to be able to use such experience to help me understand the fragility of life in order to improve in my practice.
A BIG thank you to all my 'regulars' for your immense support towards the Three Jewels, the Sangha community and the monastery! Rejoice in your merits and thank you for the slight brush of affinity with me in this very lifetime. Om mani padme hum!