From The InnkeepersOctober 2023
A Blog for October 2023
You may find the title of this blog somewhat curious. What is a “fleeting temple” you might ask. I first came across these words in a poem I read recently from the gratefulness.org website which is based on the work of Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine Monk. If you have never heard of his teachings, you could do a lot worse in terms of spending your time than taking an hour or so to explore their offerings. The poem from which these words are taken is called “Small Kindnesses” by Danusha Lameris. I share it with you here.
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down a bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here
have my seat,” “Go ahead-you first,” “I like your hat.”
The beauty of this poem lies in the premise that it’s the little things that ultimately matter and have the potential to turn the tide and help heal what divides us. It doesn’t take much- just a little more mindfulness regarding our daily interactions with one another. We look for meaning and purpose in life, but we don’t necessarily have to go to brick and mortar churches or temples or mosques to find it. We are capable of creating these “fleeting temples” by the way we treat one another. In an era of social and cultural discord, what if the building blocks of our temples, were these small acts of kindness, creating a sanctuary where we could for once trust one another. It’s refreshing to imagine how different we might be, and how different the world might be.
So, in the coming month, I invite you to lay down a foundation of small kindnesses in the world and create a fleeting temple or two on your own. I invite you to imagine a world of fleeting temples popping up everywhere and knowing that a few of them were built with small kindnesses that you extended to someone. We have hundreds of opportunities each day. It is my hope that this reality keeps you inspired.
Marcia, Pat, Sharon, and Ryan
Keepers of the Rustic Gate