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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

Clear Sky, Open Heart

The past few weeks in Bhutan has brought us intermittent rain and snow, so the weather on trek yesterday and today has been a much deserved respite – a perfect combination of brilliant sunshine and gentle cool breezes. Warm enough in the day for a light sweater, cool enough at night for a cozy sleeping bag in a tent.

After a tough day climbing above Tharpaling Monastery (the ‘Island of Liberation’, the reknowned seat of the great Buddhist master Longchenpa) and crossing over snowy Kiki Phu Pass at 3900m / 13000ft on Wednesday, yesterday we camped by a crystal clear, freezing cold stream below Dhur village. We spent the day reading, writing, resting, washing clothes in the river, and exploring the area.

We admired the ingenuity and creativity of the local carpenters and craftspeople, so skillfully assembling their farmhouses with natural materials: stone foundations, pine beams, and earthen plaster on bamboo lattice, coated in shiny white lime.

Some students enjoyed learning local Bhutanese card games from our guide Rinchen-la, and they all stayed up late for a giggly game of Mafia.

Today we passed alternately through forests of scented blue pine, meadows of musky mugwart, hedges of blooming white daphne flowers, and quiet farmsteads. Our hearts inspired and uplifted by prayerflag poles declaring the mantra of the compassionate one, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, casting prayers upon the wind, across the mountains, over valleys, and beyond the seas to our loved ones wherever they may be.

Full of aspirations that they may be secure and peaceful despite the turbulence of life, and that they know that we too are safe and content, supported by the caring hands of our friends, and buoyed by the blessings of the sacred land we are honored to traverse.

Together we move with lightness of step, openness of heart, clarity of mind, under the expansiveness of the sky above.