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March 1, 2010

The young woman looked to be in her late teens. Very tall and lithe, she was beautiful. She was applying her makeup when I walked into the bathroom. Her skin was flawless and her face was quiet. I say quiet because she displayed not a hint of smile or expression and oftentimes, it’s a smile that will draw you to a person, make you consider that they are pretty. But not this young woman. Her beauty was in perfect angles that made up defining cheekbones. It was made up in perfect skin, without blemish or unevenness, smooth and wrinkleless. Hurrying to wash my hands, she wasn’t particularly friendly, mostly she seemed occupied. She was one of the dancers our hosts had told us about.

We ‘d been at the Bodhi Meditation Center all morning.  Being their neighbors, they had invited us and all of those around the center to see what they were about. We share our western border with their 500plus acre compound, a retreat center for Buddhists or wanna be Buddhists. I admit, Mother, Neil, Bob and I readily accepted their mail delivery flyer, we’d been curious. We’d heard stories. We’d heard they didn’t pay their taxes, being a religion and all, but mostly we had heard, (not from the same people mind you), that they were really nice neighbors.

Full of green tea, with a lesson on mediation under our belt, we now sat at the thin buffet tables, the smells of steaming post of vegetables and tofu wafting about our heads and in our noses. We sat watching the young dragon dancers. We clapped our hands with appreciation in concert with Buddhists familiar with this place and the random ragtag group of Waller county guests, dressed in cowboy boots and Aggie rings and big do hair do’s. We were farmers and Catholics, Baptists and judges, state representatives and longtime landowners, nuns and monks, all together this Saturday morn.

The kids were cute as they bobbed the heads of the giant paper dragons that covered their bodies. The drum beat a steady rhythm for them. Waiting in line, right by the door, were four other dancers. Three mid teens dressed in brightly colored pantaloons, they would dance to Mexican music in a dance part middle Eastern and farther East,  and then of course, the lovely young woman from the bathroom. I noticed something new. She had added extremely long, white tipped fingernails to her couture.

When it was her turn she walked to the center of the dining hall and with one long tipped fingernailed hand grabbed the hem of her dress and placed her other hand high in the air, thumb and first finger together, the rest of her hand splayed out delicately. Her dress was white, light like feathers and throughout its misty fabric, the blues and greens of the eye of a peacock’s feathers, danced in its folds. She began to dance.

Being tall, there was a natural elegance and grace to her. She twirled and danced skillfully, gracefully, her long thin arms, bowed and bent, like the wings of a fragile bird. Her hands moved in orchestration, as in her peacock imitation, she fluttered her hands, the long fingernails became a peacock’s wing tips. She danced for five minutes and we Waller county-er’s  were transfixed. Mother’s green eye’s glowed with the knowledge of an artist. “She’s a peacock, isn’t she,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.” As the noon winter sun filtered in the floor of the dining hall the young woman once again, spread the train of her white peacock-eyed gown and posed, her hand and fingers, the image of a quieting, preening peacock’s head, her dance finished.

As we got ready to leave, I knew there would be lots of conversation back at the campfire that evening. There would be talk of meditation and Jesus and kindness and Buddha and rain chains. A brown robed monk, scurried over, shaven head displaying little beads of sweat, and as he bowed slightly, he handed us each a small red envelope, embossed with delicate gold writing. Inside we would find a one dollar bill. “Happy New Year,” he told us, “We are honored you were our guests. We wish you for prosperity and joy.”

Some truths are truths, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you are.