It Was A Good Day

I broke my mala a couple of months ago. This ended up to be a very fortunate karmic turn of events.

I know this is a strange way to start a post, but it is extremely relevant. I have a couple of malas that I use in my spiritual practice; one is made of sandalwood, the other is of the finest grade lapis lazuli. I really splashed out on the latter; I was feeling the need for inspiration, as I had kind of gotten stuck in my practice as a result of my marital crisis. I practiced with that mala fairly often, and then one day, as I was getting ready to walk out of the door to go to work, I went to put it around my neck (I was going to need it later in the day) and — snap! — the cord broke and the beads went everywhere.

Now, there are “officially” 108 beads on a mala — those are the ones you count if you’re doing mantra repetitions — but there actually are more. This mala had 3 turquoise spacer beads (these are sometimes known as “resting” beads), plus a large “guru” bead that marks the end of the circuit of beads. You skip the spacer beads, or pause on them, and you stop at the guru bead and turn the mala around to do another round of mantras. In all, that makes for 112 beads. Well, actually the spacer beads had little metal spacers around them on each end, so that would add in a total of 6 more beads, making 118.

None of this is terribly important, except for the number 108. The beads literally went all over the floor, and I managed to find 107 of the lapis beads, as well as all the other parts. But there was one lapis bead I never did find, and to this day I have no idea where it absconded to.

When a mala breaks, you can get it restrung, but this can be costly. I got quotes ranging from $30 to $150, and only one person could assure me of replacing that missing bead with something of comparable quality. Grade AA lapis is hard to come by, I guess.

This past week, I went on the search for one such bead. I found a local purveyor who had some, but they were something more like Grade C, and the color was not a good match. Nevertheless, I bought a string, and got some cheap (Grade D) jade beads: I figured I’d better have something to practice with before trying to restring my mala. In the end, I made mala with the jade beads, and a couple of bracelets with the remaining jade and lapis beads. On the evening I was making these pieces, a car drove by and posted a note on the utility pole just in front of our house. A little Pomeranian had gone missing, and the owner was looking for her. There was a reward, and a request not to approach the dog, but to keep her in sight until the owner arrived. This little poster ended up being very significant.

I gave one of the lapis bracelets to my wife, dropping it off at the colleague’s house. (No thanks were received for this, of course.) I also learned how to make tassels and Chinese endless knots. I ended up going back to the bead store over the weekend to purchase some green aventurine beads to make an “official” mala — one that I could actually use in practice. I think I pretty much got the hang of it, and I found it to be a good mindfulness practice.

This is all a long-winded lead-up to the events of today. This morning, I visited another bead store that had some lapis beads that were a very close match to the one that I was missing. I bought a string of these beads, and came home to finally restring that mala. I also had to drop by the shop to get some food for the dog. Thus, I ended up running late this morning, and finished the mala restring just minutes before I needed to go to work. I didn’t really have a chance to check out the mala very much, so I brought it with me as I got in the car to head out to work.

I managed to make it about 4 houses down our street, when I saw a small animal that looked like it could have been the missing dog. I couldn’t really believe my eyes. I stopped the car, and got out to verify. The dog was skittish, and ran up the driveway of a neighbors house. I was the dog perched on the neighbors porch, and asked another neighbor if the owner of the house had a dog; I was told that the owner only had a cat. I got on the phone and called the owner, who was about 10 miles away, but who promptly turned around and said he’d be on the scene in about 20 minutes.

Right about this time, another neighbor walked by with her three dogs, and I told her what was going on. She offered to help, and first took her dogs home so they wouldn’t scare the little Pomeranian. She was able to see that the little dog had run into the back yard of this house, and I was able to notify the owner of the house, who came out to help. We could not locate that little dog, though.

The owner arrived shortly thereafter — a young, college-aged guy who clearly loved his dog. I filled him in on the details, and we went into the back yard. The other neighbor had circled the block to see if the dog had escaped the yard, and in fact she had. The owner hopped the back fence and joined her in the neighboring yard, and within a few minutes, they located that little Pomeranian,

This was one of the happiest experiences I’ve had in recent memory. His dog had escaped on February 28th, just a couple of blocks away, and had not been seen for five days. The weather had alternated from rainy and blustery to clear and sub-freezing cold in that time, and it is likely that the dog had had little to nothing to eat or drink in this period. Nevertheless, she looked pretty healthy. The owner said he’d contact me regarding the reward, but really the reward was just being able to help.

The winds of karma blow in all sorts of unpredictable ways, and sometimes they can bring great fortune to those whose paths cross as a result.

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