We attended a very unusual reading last evening. The author was Faith Adiele and her book was entitled Meeting Faith; the Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun
. Faith grew up in the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington. Her mother was Scandinavian and her father Nigerian. She was brought up a liberal in a very conservative part of our state. Her father went back to Nigeria before she was born, always intending to return but never doing so. She attended Harvard, dropped out failing, so she says and went to Thailand to do research. She sought out a temple of Buddhist nuns in the north of that country and asked to join. She was ordained and spent about four months with the nuns. Most traditions of Buddhism only allow ordination after several years of study. Apparently the Forest Tradition, the branch of Buddhism followed in northern Thailand allows it immediately. Her sister nuns were the anthropological study of Faith. The life of the nuns is harsh by our standards but she fit in quite well, eating one meal a day and meditating as much as nineteen hours a day. She does not claim to be a Buddhist now though she misses the practice, as Buddhists call it. The reading was delightful, brought many laughs and sold a few books. Faith Adiele now teaches writing as an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, having obviously returned to Harvard and completed more than one degree.
There is to be a future PBS television program called The Journey Home
which follows Faith as she travels to Nigeria to attempt to find her father. When she does find him she does not think much of him; a little man, she says. But she was delighted to discover that she has three half-sisters. We enjoyed our evening very much with this delightful woman.