A Joyful Children’s Day Celebration

An article by Andrea D’Asaro
Photos by Andrea D’Asaro and JoAnn Schindler

The December solstice eve was greeted with a vibrant intergenerational menagerie of tigers, lions, garudas and dragons on the main shrine room stage. Colorful murals and a chocolate-laden shrine greeted families and friends for the story of Iliana, narrated skillfully by Andy Gordon who helped guide our heroine to the discovery of the Great Eastern Sun.

The celebration opened with a kid’s ikebana lesson with our resident experts Shelley Pierce and Kat Larsson. “Children used a paper white bulb for the traditional Heaven, Earth and Humanity elements along with horsetail sculptures, winter leaves, and holly berries,” explained Shelley.  “Children were to take their arrangements home to see their paper whites continue to grow, along with the growing daylight.”    

Next, in the upper shrine room, colorful child-painted murals and a chocolate-laden shrine greeted children, families and friends for the solstice story, joining our heroine Illiana on her quest to the discover the Great Eastern Sun. Illiana was played by Mary Bolton, who also led the Kasung colors presentation before a quick costume change.

Robin Willett, head of the Bodhi School children’s program, skillfully cast the four dignities*: Bob McCall with 6- year-old Elliott Gordon-Maclean as the steady tigers, Kat Larsson, as the vibrant snow lion with Gia Tran and 2-year old Arlo Gordon-Maclean as playful assistants. The garuda, played by Cynthia Bradshaw, expanded its vast wings to guide Illiana home. The dragon, inscrutably costumed as the elegant actress Marlene Dietrich in a sparkling evening gown with top hat, reminded us to step into the unexpected, played by your writer, Andrea D’Asaro. 

Children received a blessing kata and orange from the king and queen, Trevor Slocum and Shuk Ng, who presided over the event. 

Andy Gordon-Maclean, father of our two child-actors, thanked Robin Willett for her devotion to the Bodhi School and for organizing Children’s Day, presenting her with a bouquet and card signed by families. 

*The qualities of the four dignities—tiger, lion, garuda and dragon—represent the stages on the path for realizing our inherent goodness.

Many thanks to the cast and crew, who reminded us that even on the darkest days, the light of the Great Eastern Sun is within us all, and a deep bow to Robin Willett, who guides our Families and Children program with dedication and good humor. Ki ki so so!

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