Yesterday we got to experience a taste of monastic life in Fuzhou. We wore special robes for the day, blue robes for the men and white robes for the women. We attended a day-long monastic life celebration hosted by Kaiyuan Temple filled with lots of activities. We were some of the honored guests of the event! When we arrived at the temple, we received a warm greeting from the monks and the rest of the visitors there before starting a day of meditation and activities.
In the morning, we started out with a tea ceremony and we each got a taste of the special tea they made. Then we all went up to the front of the stage to make offerings to the Buddha. We then had a vegetarian lunch similar to what the monks eat, but we had strict rules to follow: the meal must be eaten in silence, you must place your plates in certain positions, and you must eat all the food before you finish. There was a lot to think about, but our meal was very delicious!
In the afternoon, we had one hour of meditation where we cleared our minds. It was amazing how peaceful and relaxed we felt afterwards! Then some national gong-fu champions performed for us. They all seemed pretty young but their moves looked incredible. The final person to perform broke a bamboo stick with his back! Then they invited us to the front and we got to learn a bit of gong-fu, too!
The last thing we did was a prayer ceremony lit by candles. It was unifying to see everyone praying the same prayer in English and Chinese for peace in the world. The candles reminded me of Christmas at Luther and the amazing people who are waiting for us back at home. We really enjoyed our time in China and loved our day at the Kaiyuan Temple.