I need a costume for Halloween. I will be on retreat at Black Mountain Retreat Center in Cazadero. (padmapeace.org). On Halloween Eve we will have a traditional segaki ceremony. This is the time when Buddhists unmask themselves. They approach the altar and call in their demons. The demons are recognized, invited in for tea, and asked to behave themselves until Halloween comes around again.
I want to be Kuan Yin. She is the archetype who hears the cries of the world. She is known for her boundless compassion. She has 10,000 arms and eyes to help her.
I know it is impossible to be literal but still, I can’t imagine how I will create a costume that represents Kuan Yin.
I go to the Legacy. This is a shop near my home that sells recycled craft and sewing supplies. Proceeds from sales benefit the Sebastopol Senior Center.
I enter not knowing what I am looking for. I see a bolt of gold fabric. I don’t know what I will do with it but I know it is exactly what I need. I give the volunteer sales person $3.00 for the fabric and I return home with it . I call my friend Peggy. “Help,” I say. “Can you help me be Kuan Yin for Halloween?”
She comes right over. She brings her sewing machine and a kimono pattern. She sews and I paint.
The back of the costume shows Kuan Yin riding a dragon. I paint eyes and hands on her sleeves and sash. My friend Corlene drops by. She shows me how to make a turban out of a piece of the gold fabric.
It takes many hands and eyes to make Kuan Yin come alive.