My friend loved these people, and had spent a sizable portion of her life learning, transcribing, and preserving their vanishing Tibetan dialect. She was humbled by their willingness to take her in. They laughed with delight when she joined them eagerly for yak-butter tea.
I came to visit, to be with her in her remarkable world. We climbed the Buddhist holy mountain together: I, wide-eyed, gasping for air, full of questions …. She, solemnly amused as I struggled to take it all in: the profusion of prayer flags, resolute devotion, stunning beauty.
We met them, serendipitously, on the mountain top. They marveled that this golden-haired foreigner could speak their language, perplexed when she explained that I, on the other hand, “couldn’t speak.” We shared simple food and they joked and chattered, absorbed in conversation, oblivious to my astonishment at being welcomed into this hallowed space. In one transcendent moment, I understood.
[For more, check out the Prayer Walking Sacred Sites (Sichuan Province, China) gallery at Worldview Photography. ]