The Dance of the Koi - Part 2 (Day 3, Khao Rom Temple)

OOC: This is a JP by Winters and Wanderingwolf

"So you expected things to be easy? That you would laugh in the face of temptation?” Yangchen said with a rueful smile. “Is that not the point Sister Lyen? To face these shortcomings and work to rise above them? If all things were easy we would have achieved peace and Nirvana long ago.” The Nun pointed out. “Remember Sister … fear is but a phantom and failure a lesson and opportunity to be better.”

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” Ziao added. “The choices you are making are shaping who you are, your true self. Regardless if you think you are, or are not strong enough - you are right.”

Considering for a moment, the nun replied, “But the risks are too high; failure would mean loss of everything I’ve worked to overcome. Surely you would agree that no temptation is worth staring in the face--daring it to back down--were the straights so dire as sobriety, no?”

"You're seeing the world as if the cup is half full or half empty instead of appreciating the fact you have water in your cup at all." Yangchen pointed. "If you do not face your fears, how can you move forward. It is not a gamble you face and fail or pass you have a home. Family and friends to catch you. Guide you help you. This is why you are here is it not? Because you brothers and sisters are concerned for you?"

“My family… my friends, they don’t exactly live by our way. They blur lines; live in the moment. They’re… ruled by passion, sometimes greed, and… plum wine.” Ly adjusted her braid passing it over her shoulder. “I fear that my brothers and sisters are concerned for me in spite of my family and friends. And they might be right to worry. I have felt so many changes in these last weeks that I’m even a little unsure of the ground I stand on.” She paused, realizing that perhaps she was navel gazing a little too intently with two Sisters who could offer spiritual advice rather than help her win an internal battle against her emotions. Still, they may offer some absolution or some condemnation which would allow her to lean into any self hatred that boiled beneath the surface.

“I…” the words were hard to say aloud, “have become quite close to someone. And I’m not sure how to navigate this new relationship in light of my oath to the Order. If I were a lay-person, and had no oath, the decision would be plain, but… I feel something I’ve never felt before and it’s made me see everything differently.” Her brow knit as she studied the teapot fixed at the center of the stone table between them.

Yangchen could help but smile into her cup. "Do you feel that no one of the Order have faced similar challenges?" She asked.

Her eyes widened at the learned nun before her. Of course there was nothing new under the suns, but the Order as she had known it was, at the top, focused on impressing the nuns and monks of its ranks with the importance of the spiritual over the corporeal. All things were secondary to caring for others; little or no thought was spared for the fleshly yearnings of the self when it stood at odds with the oath. “Well, I, uhm, no. I suppose it’s human?”

"Exactly. All of it is human and it is something that will always be there. Something you will always struggle with ... it is part of being human. When you can accept yourself, your flaws, your merits, you will find something you realize you had the whole time. Choice. So when you look at your sisters and brother at every temple across the Verse realize that they are no further ahead or behind than you. They are exactly where they are supposed to be." The Monk reminded. "It's how you overcome these challenges that determines the direction of your path. Remember failure is not a dead end but rather turn in your path."

Choice. Truly, it was not a choice how she had come to see Marisol or how the mechanic made her feel. That electric charge which climbed her spine was involuntary. But just as Yangchen said, how she responded was a choice she must make. The question was thus: would she remain a nun of the Order of the Interverse considering her oath binding above any earthly feelings, or would she break the oath and live her life as free as the wind which blew her into the arms of Marisol. The only failure she could surmise was inaction--pretending that there was no galvanizing decision to be made. “You’re right, I think I know what I have to do,” there was a wild glint in her eye as her gaze traded between Yangchen and Xiao. “Acceptance truly is the path to peace,” she said in measured rhythm, a smile creeping onto her face.

"There are many types of peace Sister Lyen." Yangchen said thoughtfully. "But if I may give you one bit of personal advice? Many of us have been in your shoes and to be honest, seeking spirituality does mean a level of sacrifice. You must consider why joined the Order, the impact it has on not just you but those around you. Our job not just a spiritual path to self enlightenment … but to make verse as a whole a better place in anyway we can. With hands that heal bodies and souls, to help someone without judgment and preconceptions. Our love is for everyone, like a mother we accept those in need without question. The hardest lesson you will ever learn is letting something or someone go in pursuit of a higher calling. Our love is not meant for one person but for all."

The spark faded infinitesimally from her eye, “But there are many ways our love can be shared and to deny it--well that could be just as painful. Would love deny love?” When she had joined the order she had left everyone and everything behind willingly. There was no tether to anchor her to life on Athens, once Bao was gone. Self destructive tendencies urged her to hurl herself into drastic and spiteful life decisions. She would become the very thing Bao had posed to be: a pious monk, though he had been in league with two-headed snakes.

She had abandoned all life and love before she came to the order. In fact, it was unfair for love to call her, now that nothing good could come of it. Lyen pursed her lips, “Surely the verse would be a better place, as a whole, if love were celebrated where it happened to fall.” Ly bit her tongue.

"But the love of a mother can not choose a favorite child." Yangchen posed. "This life is not easy. As I said there is great personal sacrifice and not everyone is ready or willing to do that and there is no shame in that. I see such great potential in you, to be a positive force wandering through the stars, touching each life for the better. However … if you feel there is a greater call than the one here, no power in verse could stop you. We are forever your family and will always support you no matter what. We just want to make sure you make an informed and well thought out decision."

Ly studied Yangchen’s face, the lines in her encouraging smile, the graying in her majestic hair which coiled around her shoulders. Xiao, too, whose face was stoic for most of their exchange, wore an expression of compassion in her deep brown eyes as she returned Lyen’s gaze. She studied her own hands, folded in her lap. “Xièxiè jiěmèimen (Thank you, Sisters). Your sound advice is rain in a drought: exactly what I need.” Her swimming thoughts were coalescing toward that single choice Yangchen had observed. In her heart, Lyen felt the choice would be clear the moment she saw Marisol. The weights would shift and tip the scale of her fate.

"Take all the time you need to consider your path. Enjoy the tea." Yangchen said rising, Xaio following suit. "If you need anything let us know." She smiled leaving Lyen to contemplate, assured that no matter the choice there Sister was faced with, it would be the right one.

She stood to offer a bow to each Sister as they quit her presence until she was alone on the stone bench, the koi swirling in the pond beneath her. In perfect harmony, a white and red fish glided in tandem with a brilliant yellow one, their bodies forming a perfect circle for just a moment. Then the moment passed, and each moved on to the next partner in their shimmering dance.

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