A good friend invited me to spend a Sunday in Balboa Park with a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. I knew very little of him but Sundays in September in San Diego can be glorious and there are few better places than the park for them.
I think it was promoted as a Day of Mindfulness, another subject about which I knew very little.
The day was pretty much a total immersion. We were blissfully adrift in a gentle sea of brown-robed Buddhist monks and nuns. There were dharma talks and long periods of meditation. Some were led by Thay in his soft, barely audible whisper of a voice. Some were led by his followers.
Went to Ben Gall’s first official San Miguel Salon on Sunday night at his home, Casa Sentosa de las Serpientes, in Colonia Lindavista. Ben has been building toward this day for many months.
Actually, for years when you consider that he designed and built his house so that he could hold intimate concerts in his courtyard. There is a raised patio that serves as a stage and seating for as many as 50 people in the courtyard and 20 more on the roof of his casita.
If first impressions are all that important, facing the entrance to the brand new Hacmans restaurant in the even-newer Hotel Amatte (Amatte Wellnest Community) – which has yet to open – is a daunting one: 71 gleaming white stairs leading seemingly up to the sky.
Yes, count them: seventy-one.
Of course, there is a glass-box elevator off to the side, but what’s the fun in that?
One minute a bunch of San Miguel youngsters are rounding the bases and heading for home in a lively baseball game against their parents. Moments later, they are rounding the same bases in single file, carrying a creche on a platform and singing the traditional songs of the Posada.
And shortly after that, the kids were back swinging a bat — only this time at a candy-filled pinata.
Sometime between Thursday night when I left San Miguel de Allende and Saturday night when I returned, the life-size crèche popped up in the Jardin Principal, just across from Parroquia San Miguel Arc Angel.
Just in time, too. The plaza will be the final stop on the nine-night journey of Joseph and Mary in search of a place to rest and give birth to the baby Jesus, Dec. 16-24. Eight other communities in San Miguel have each, in turn, held a Posada which ends with pageantry, music, gifts, food, pinatas, celebration, and veneration.