Near Santa Cruz we parked in a cul-de-sac, behind the fence of a housing unit. We were behind the dumpster port used by the housing block. People would have to come around the enclosure to find us. We settled in, lit the kerosene lamp and meditated after bowing. Heng Ch’au made tea and we chanted the Amitabha Sutra and secured the Plymouth for the night.
A man wandered over, knocked on the windows and asked politely whether we were prepared?
“Prepared for what?” replied Heng Ch’au. “For the aliens; they’re coming you know, on space craft, to take away the righteous. You two are already on the right beam, I can see that, but even so we all have to prepare, y’know.” Don’t forget now.”
“Okay, that’s kind of you to let us know,” said Heng Ch’au.
“Not at all. Good night.”
We chuckled, blew out the lantern and looked at the stars through the station wagon’s windows.
The next morning at 5:00 AM, after chanting I opened the car door to find that the air was seriously foggy. Heng Ch’au boiled a cooking pot of water for tea before we stepped out into the drizzle to start morning tai chi. I sat in full lotus and reached under the car seat for my exercise shoes, forgetting that I had set my tea in my lap. I moved too fast in the confined space and spilled an entire tea bowl of boiling hot tea onto my upturned bare foot and ankle. The tea blistered my skin within seconds. Oh, it hurt! How was I going to bow on a burned foot?
Heng Ch’au poked his head through the tailgate curtains and said, “Wow! That’s pretty good tea, eh? It could really wake a guy up, huh? Did you get enlightened?”
I laughed so hard I couldn’t feel the pain for at least a minute.