Monday, July 21, 2008
Ed Goes On the Road for Rights of Passage
July 21, 2008 12:30pm - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A sudden sense of knowing washed over me. My first morning in Cambodia and I realize that a right of passage is simply about getting to where you are going. Physically, spiritually and in every other imaginable way. Perhaps it's the jet lag talking -- it did take almost 24 hour to get here -- but I suddenly understand that you have to travel the path, navigate the obstacles, and receive what is offered. No shortcuts allowed and no taking on of matters that have not yet been properly aligned for your journey. I always knew that making this play was not going to be easy. Karmic reminders of this were to follow.
This morning after breakfast I decided to wander over to the Royal Palace to take the tour and find yet another way to deliver my 'I am here please grant me audience' message to the king. The reality that my path was not yet sufficiently paved slipped into full view. The Palace was closing for a lunch break between 11am and 2pm and no one at the Royal Residence sentry station was interested in delivering the hand written note I had prepared for his majesty. Surely he had already received the letter I sent in advance of my visit and was waiting anxiously for my arrival. Hardly. Getting where I am going did not seem to include seeing the presumed gay King this morning.
Continuing along my way, dodging the persistent taxis, tuk-tuks, street vendors and urchins I ambled over to the National Museum which is just around the corner from the Royal Palace. After paying my $3, I found myself surrounded by 6th-13th Century Cambodian artifacts. Buddhas, statues of kings, stone carvings, ceramics, bronze, and ancient jewelry as far as the eye could see.
I sat down to take it all in and found myself transfixed by the face of some lost king from the 14th Century whose name I could not pronounce. His eyes were closed and yet they were staring into mine. How is that even possible? Maybe it was the jet lag but I felt a little spooked. Then without warning my eyes teared up.
From behind I felt a hand on my shoulder. An elderly Cambodian woman pressed an arrangement of fragrant Jasmine into my hand and in broken English said 'you must give this to him. An offering, for peace, for luck and to find your way. It will be alright then.' What was going on here?
A few tears fell down my cheek -- I placed the jasmine at the King's feet. 'Maybe now he can see you too,' she said. I turned to her and she pressed more Jasmine into my hand. 'This one is for you -- doesn't it smell beautiful? Please take it with you.' Then she smiled, turned away and left me alone with the statue, eyes closed, staring down at me.
I guess I met the King this morning after all.