Recently I had the privilege of attending both Cub Pack 79’s “Graduation Ceremony” and Girl Scout Troop 5325’s “Court of Awards.” Both units are sponsored by the Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Both units are a source of pride for the temple in general, but having attended both events again this year, I was struck at how much everyone has grown, even during the short time of my tenure here at the Venice Hongwanji has been. It’s almost embarrassing for me to say, because I can recall how embarrassed I felt at being the subject of the conversation, but I can remember a lot of the Scouts when they were, “Only this tall.” By “this tall” I mean about as far down as I can reach my hand downward without putting too much strain on my back.
It is heartwarming, if not somewhat embarrassing for the Scouts, to see how much they have all grown; by growth I am not limiting myself to physical growth but am including emotional growth as well. Hopefully, they have also grown spiritually.
In seeing all their smiles after having reached and accomplished yet another milestone in their lives, I was helped to see how much time has passed. Many of the Scouts, in my memory, were only half as tall as they are now. Looking at the Scouts, I could not help but ask myself, “Where has the time gone?” It was then that I noticed the great lesson that all these Scouts were sharing with me. They were helping me to see how easy it is to grow old, to let the days just pass one by. The Scouts also helped me to see, through their smiles, how much more rewarding it is to grow up. Hopefully, I will take that lesson home with me, and like the Scouts to accept the next challenge and rise up to meet it. This will be especially important for me in the days, and hopefully years, to come. Because, not too far away now, I know that I will be challenged by age and death. Hopefully, like the Scouts, I will be able to meet the challenge and greet it with a smile. Fortunately, like the Scouts have their wonderful leaders, I have Nembutsu.
Rev. John Iwohara