American travel writer finds wisdom and ‘meditative quietude’ at ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka
It’s a long way from Austin, Texas, to Sri Lanka, and for US travel veteran Becca Hensley it was as much a way to wisdom as a journeyman’s travel itinerary.
She writes in the Austin American Statesman how her driver prepared her for what was to become a journey of spiritual discovery and “a meditative quietude”.
“‘Here in Sri Lanka, we have a saying,’” he says. “‘Wisdom can be found in traveling. I wish you much wisdom.’”
She describes how “I gain the traveler’s wisdom my driver wished for me on one particular outing … to climb myriad stairs up a mountain to Mulkirigala, an ancient Buddhist temple”.
“Time stands still as I linger to ruminate, the only person occupying that sacred space. The monks bless me. Just as the sky breaks into fissures of citrus shades, they tie a prayer bracelet on my left wrist.
“I’m staring at it now, a worn bit of ragged string on my skin. It’s Sri Lanka’s humble gift. The wisdom I’ve found.”
Meanwhile, after “Buddhist temples atop mountains, forts edging cliffs, colorful, chaotic hamlets buzzing with tuk-tuks and bustling outdoor markets and extant colonial structures”, she arrives at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle.
“I walk inside to be entranced by the harmony of dulcet voices in song. Part of the resort’s culturally entrenched welcoming ritual, this crooning by three traditionally clad female singers greets all guests.
“Tears come to my eyes unbidden. I feel the soul of Sri Lanka in their sweet, ardent melody. I don’t want the song to end. When it does, I let it settle into my memory. It presages the joy and gravitas of what’s to come.”
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