Can a fountain wash away your sins?
Can a garden full of pretty birdsong
Underneath a shady tree
Wipe away the past?
The muffled talk surrounding me
The blackbird in the pepper tree,
The water splashing on river stones
All should calm my mind.
The whisky soda, no ice of course,
Tastes as it should across my tongue,
The chickpea curry is perfectly spiced;
Why then this agitation?
Yesterday in Ranakpur,
In a forest high and cool,
I sat in the temple the Jains had built
In the Aravalli mountains.
Built in the 15th century
From carved white marble in the Hindu style
Over fourteen hundred marble columns
Support this prayer in stone.
The murti of the Jain saint Adinath
Resides within a sanctuary,
A cloister of pure white filigree
On a platform raised in marble.
Other saints are also given
Niches for pious supplicants
To offer prayers and homage
According to their faith.
In the centre is an atrium
That fills the temple with natural light
Reflecting off the marble surfaces
All carved in purest white.
Into this sacred space I climbed
To be met by a white bearded priest
Who greeted me as "brother";
We shared the same hirsute face.
He offered me a guided tour
Explaining the temple's history,
Pointing out the spaces within
And the message in the design.
He finished with an ancient prayer,
A blessing and some yellow paste
Painted on my thought-filled brow,
He left me feeling full of grace.
I sat within one of the wings
Bathed in soft morning light
Taking in the ambience
And the worshipers praying nearby.
A thought jumped into my head:
Why was I here instead of her?
Why was she so cruelly taken and
Could she hear me now?
I imagined all the prayers been said
In this space for five hundred years,
I imagined my prayers joined with theirs,
A message straight to heaven.
I'm in this garden once again
And thinking God has given much
For me to be grateful for;
My prayer should be "amen".