Explosion at shrine … risk of fire averted

Reading in the bath – with or without a a pot of fragrant white tea – is one of my morning pleasures. But before I sink gratefully into the cleansing water, I have two shrines to tend: one Christian, the other Buddhist.

This morning, having neglected to replenish my stock of tea-lights, I pushed the stub of a candle into a crystal holder and set it down in front of my little Russian icon. Then, standing before the Japanese scroll whose dramatic calligraphy articulates the name of the Buddha, I lit no candle but settled for a brief chant and a respectful bow.

Time ticked on. I’d begun to read a fresh library book.

The glorious din of the shattering crystal candle-holder filled me at once with awe and a certain fierce joy.

But yes, I did leap out of the bath to make sure that the carpet hadn’t begun to smoulder.

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