The darkness just before dawn has a unique quality. The world is still and silent, listening, and awaiting the sun. A thin line of vermilion cloud hangs low and bright on the eastern horizon, mirroring the rise and fall of distant peaks. As the earth spins toward sunrise, we sit cross legged on the floor of the shrine hall.
Gold, blue, green, red, every color imaginable has its place among the decorative paintings, detailed hanging tapestries and thangkas. The monks sit in stark contrast to their brilliant surroundings. Their maroon robes draped loosely about them, young and old shaved heads bent alike in concentration as they chant in unison. Hundreds of voices speaking together, remembering an exiled culture, and echoing in deep harmonies the yearning of humanity. The low reverberating tones, and the steady drum beat mingle with the beating of my own heart and send tangible vibrations outward as the sun appears on the distant horizon.
The valleys below are shrouded by a veil of fog and gentle wisps of cloud. The morning sunlight is soft and warm on my upturned face. The sunbeams, like longing fingers, reach into this world to light on the fluttering prayer flags, Lungta in Tibetan, meaning “Wind Horse”. A light breeze blows from the east, and the pine forests on the slopes below greet it with soft whispers.