Good Friday last year I was in New Zealand. The year before that it was Hong Kong. This year I’m at home in Sydney. The sun is shining, there is nothing on the road, and very little to do bar catch up on TV shows and ironing.
Last year I was on holiday in the South Island of New Zealand. We had stayed the night in Hanmer Springs and woke to a gorgeous blue day.
Breakfast was bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese that we had hunter gathered from what was left at the local IGA immediately before closing the previous night, and we ate it in the sun with some ducks for company before hitting the road to Kaikoura.
The previous year was very different. In Hong Kong for work (I was project managing an office move), I found myself with the morning of Good Friday free. The movers were in loading things onto trucks, so I caught a train out to Kowloon and a Taoist temple I had read about- Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple*. It seemed right to do some sort of worship on Good Friday.
As one of the busiest in Hong Kong it is like a small village of colourful roofs and pillars and amazing lattice work. The air hangs heavy with the smoke of hundreds and hundreds of sticks of burning incense.
People come here for the usual prayers and devotions. Others come here to have their fortunes told using the chim**, bamboo fortune sticks. Essentially you shake the box of numbered sticks until one falls out. That stick is then taken to one of the many fortune-tellers lining the outside of the Temple and it’s meaning is told to you for free.
Behind the main temple is the Good Wish Gardens. They say they when you go to Good Wish Gardens you have to be really, really sure that what you wish for is what you really want- because more often than not, wishes made here will come true. As with all of these claims there is, of course, the fine print that your wish should be made with intent and focus and not infringe on the happiness or free will of another.
I did the incense thing, I did the chim thing. A little dried up man who was wearing so many sets of beads that they clinked in time with his steps grabbed the stick number, looked at my palm and told me I would make my fame and fortune with a pen and have my heart broken by a man. At that time I felt that my heart had already been broken.
He also told me that my wish would come true- that some things we fight are inevitable. It hasn’t yet, but then again, I can’t swear that it was made with true intent and I did have so many hopes and dreams running through my head as I wished.