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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lotus Flowers

The lotus is, in the end, just a water lily. The pure white lotus holds the distinction, I am told, of being the only plant to fruit and flower simultaneously. It grows in muddy ponds, and flowers at night. The Egyptians prized it, and often pictured it in their paintings. Homer even mentioned it, speaking of the lotus eaters, who occupied the north coast of Africa and lived on the lotus, which brought forgetfulness and happy indolence.

In India, the purple lotus seems more common. I've seen it growing in all sorts of bodies of water, from pristine ponds to horrible waste-filled ditches. It is beautiful, and Lakshmi , wife of the Hindu god Vishnu, and one of the incarnations of the Mother-Goddess, is often portrayed as sitting on a lotus, her traditional symbol.

At the LCECU, we have purple lotus growing in our fish pond. Every day there seems to be a new bloom, and there were three at last count. The flowers are lovely and delicate.

Sara had the fish pond installed in the middle of our courtyard for its beauty. It has no "practical" reason for existing, and some might consider it a waste of money. After all, we are the low cost effective care unit. ut why should the poor not have a beautiful place to come to and to get treated? Should only the well-off be able to experience the spiritual comfort of beauty?

I've often seen people, especially the children, enjoying the pond. They like to sit, quietly, and watch the fishes, or contemplate the flowers. It is a good thing.

P.S. I must now confess that the photo above was actually staged. I've lived with my secret for over a year now. Last year, when my friend Mary Ganguli was here at the LCECU, she commented on the children by the pond, and asked me to get a photo. Never again, in the following month, did I come upon children by the pond. (We were having some technical difficulties, and there were often pumps and other equipment in and around the pond.) So, on my last day, Sara found a few children and we had them pose for us.


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