So the Shikoku trip is really just right around the corner. Plane tickets have been secured, and now we are gathering information and orders from the travelers, regarding the items they want to have when we arrive to start the 88 Temple tour. There are many, many details that need to be sorted out, and continued worries about the condition of the dollar against the yen. My faith is really, really being tested. Tomorrow is the prayer day for Ojizo Bosatsu, so maybe my need to write in my blog is somehow guided by the Buddhas.
The temple received a call a couple of days from an elderly lady who wanted a priest to pray for her. Andrew answered the call and asked what the matter was, and the response was like so many that we seem to be receiving nowadays: strange. According to this woman, the smell of papayas from her neighbors yard was bothering her so she wanted a priest to pray that the smell stops or the trees die. This request is not the first time something odd was asked for. I have heard from people who wanted us to pray that their pot smoking neighbors would stop their habit, as the fumes were entering their bedrooms (a valid complaint mind you, but quite beyond the power of Kobo Daishi, or any spiritual figure or deity frankly); and my favorite, to stop the shadows of the neighbors because the individual felt that the shadows held evil. This is not to say that nothing is wrong...no something is VERY wrong, but it may not be the neighbor. I could be mercenary and tell these people that I can pray and do something about it. But is that really true? I can pray with a person and they will feel good about it, but it may not actually materially solve the problem. Yet we get call after call, and there are priests that will convince the person that they must come, get blessings, pass over an envelope with money, and the cleansing will have been successful. I want to know when I go on this pilgrimage, is that all there is?