Finding Eggs and Finding our Way: Easter at a Buddhist Temple?
As we prepare for our temple's 75th anniversary celebration this fall, I've been taking time to remember the old days and my experiences growing up at IOBT. One of those experiences was "Sunday School!" Even though we were Buddhist, we called it “Sunday School” not “Dharma School”. There were so many children that we had several partitioned classrooms in the basement where we had our “Sunday School” classes. Teachers kept attendance charts with stars for those who were present. At the end of the Sunday School year, we received “Perfect Attendance” pins. I was so proud to have earned a 3-year pin. It wasn’t easy getting from Nampa to Ontario before Interstate 84 was built, but my dad made sure we were there every Sunday!
As Easter Sunday approaches this year, I wanted to reflect on this photo from 1962 that I found in an old album. It makes me think about our temple and how we worked to become a part of the larger Treasure Valley community.
Here I am with my good friend, Donna. It looks like this was taken next to the temple parking lot. We are dressed in our Easter finest, and I am holding a basket full of eggs. I’m about 10 years old. (That makes this photo 60 years old!) Some of you might recollect those days of temple. (We called it “church.”) We had the usual Buddhist services for Hanamatsuri, Obon, and Ohigan, but we also had an Easter egg hunt and a Christmas party--complete with Santa. (These events might have been referred to as “egg hunt” and “holiday party.”) For the egg hunt, the older Sunday School students were tasked with boiling and dying a dozen eggs and hiding them while the younger ones were in service. Then after service was over, we scrambled outdoors to hunt down the hidden eggs. There were not a lot of good places outdoors around the temple to hide eggs so kids had to be creative. I remember that someone tried to hide an egg in a car’s exhaust pipe. That didn’t go well when it got stuck! I don’t remember exactly what we did with all those hard-boiled eggs that I brought home. I think Mom made potato salad with lots of eggs.
We never questioned the appropriateness of having an Easter egg hunt at a Buddhist temple. It was a fun activity, and it was something we could talk about at school that made us seem like everyone else. We also bought new dresses and shoes for Easter—just like the other girls. We bought a basket for eggs—like everyone else. We had fun hunting for eggs—like all our friends.
Back then, we enjoyed coming to church to see friends—just as we do today. We loved the hunt, and as we got older, we enjoyed hiding eggs. The temple moms made a delicious lunch. We had hard-boiled eggs for our meals at home. It was a wonderful time to spend with the Sangha. We didn’t care about whether or not we should have an Easter egg hunt at a Buddhist temple. We just wanted to be able to be a part of the community, doing what others in the community were doing.
As IOBT looks to its future, we can look back on our past and how our temple fits into the community, and we can think about how we want our future to look. I think we would want to share with others the wonderful feeling of Sangha, the compassion that we know is all around us, and the gratitude we have for life. Our Buddhist teachings encourage us to think about interconnection and the importance of our relationships with all others, regardless of their/our religious beliefs or affiliations.
What are your IOBT memories? We hope to have a 75th Anniversary photo gallery for the convention to share our memories and photos. This is a great time to start looking through your old albums to see if you have anything to share.
In Gassho (with palms together),
Rev. Kathy Chatterton, Assistant Minister