So in Taiwan this time, I was assigned to cover the tracks with incense while we receive the Maitreya. The rest of my gang were manning the kiln which was something I was more familiar with.

Doing things in a group meant that there is less to do for everyone, compared to having to bend my back for the whole 400m, crutched low and moving backwards.

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There were many mixed feelings from the moment I agreed to the job – initially without any knowledge of how tough this would be until the moments of silently wishing I could opted out and finally setting my thoughts, on it seeing that not much volunteers would want to do what we did.

I tried to find the ‘why’ in my allocated task but only information given was that it was pertaining to the smoke puja. Throughout that few days my fellow volunteers gave full support and cheered me on. Their grace was warm and heartfelt.

Came 4 March: Standing on Lane 2, I thought there wasn’t any unsettling thoughts, just a firm energy with faith to complete my task. After I put on the N95 mask, I could hardly breathe. Will I faint later? I can only hear my team leader saying, “quick… quick…!”

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While I was scattering the incense powder, against the wind, the particles came attacking my eyes, I could barely open them! Did I manage to cover all the tracks evenly?

“Quick… quick!”

The combination of tears and powder cake everything up! I was sweating and panting, and we barely completed 200m, the relay of 400m with only 5 pax in a team, crutched down ‘running’ backwards. Before our pail of incense ran out the next pail of refill was replaced.

“OK, Weilin, you may take a break for 30 secs!”

After I make sense of what my team leader said I took a moment to straighten my back took a few breaths. Looking at the people along the tracks coughing, with cameras, with flowers, with hands and hankies over their noses, what a sight! Our team was amidst the golden fog. Soon we could see the entourage at the 2nd Smoke Offering Station. I turned back to the refill station and then dashed forward to the uncovered tracks.

“OK, Weilin, rejoice! We can stop here!”

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I slowed down, finishing the parts underneath the Rinpoche’s seat. I pulled down the mask and could feel the batter on my upper lip. Squinting my sore and teary eyes, scanned the team in search for an exit.

At that very moment, a butterfly of red and black hovered above me. I raised my hand to try to reach it. It just hovered around my hand and flew higher! At this moment of satisfaction, there was bliss…

I have ran tracks and won relays in my teenage years. But the cheers from my fellow virtuous friends is filled with much joy and energy. It was an amazing job! One of the mother of a Venerable who was from Hong Kong wanted a picture with me but I said I was too dirty. She quoted our guru, “心洁白就好!”

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Most importantly, I learned that no matter how tough a job or difficult a situation, we must have faith in our guru and fellow virtuous friends. With pure motivation, we will still get ahead of the situation and overcome the challenge with joy, compassion and wisdom!

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The aspirations that I have made at this Monlam Festival are not easy and I believe this assignment came as a trial for my upcoming adventure!

~ Penned by WeiLin ~