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Jul 19
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Momo’s View of a Supermodel

momoCOLUMN: In Everyday Life
Sangha Member Profile

by Aaron Delong, Shambhala Times Regional Correspondent

In which we discover the story of one woman in service to the Shambhala vision. The author, Aaron Delong is currently a gardener at Karme Choling and here profiles a long serving member of the Shambhala community: Sara Kapp.

The supermodel’s in the kitchen making momos. Tibetan dumplings. It’s something she learned decades ago, when the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was new in Vermont and she was barely twenty.

“I came here, I was basically a kid,” she tells anyone who cares to listen, those working in the kitchen or just passing through. “I was the babysitter back then. I didn’t know anything. I’d say to Rinpoche, ‘Rinpoche, Rinpoche, all these people are taking refuge. I don’t even know what that means. Should I be doing it?’ And he’d say, ‘Sara, just take care of the kids. It’s all right.” She laughs at the memory, hands fluttering like sparrows over the pastries, one careful crimp after the next. Today, she’s a Scorpion Seal practitioner, the head of Ikebana at Karme Choling, and the only cook in the kitchen who wears high heels. She moves another tray of momos into the oven, flitting through the space with quick, precise grace. Ostensibly, she wears heels to slow herself down, but she walked runways for too long for that trick to work.

“Rinpoche had a dream about momos, once,” she offers, moving through the space. Her memories come a bit unexpected, like birds flushed from trees. Her stories emerge like a collage or mosaic. “He dreamt of momos with shrimp wrapped up in cow’s tongue, served with beer. We decided to do it, of course. First, though, we had to figure out what momos were.” While she’s talking a participant comes in, asking for herbal tea. Rather than irritation at the interruption, Sara perks up, strides across the space to the tea closet, and gets them a box of tea. In a labyrinthine building of closets and shrines, bedrooms and dorms, bathrooms and offices, the kitchen is the pulsing heart, the center of motion and sound. People are always passing through, asking for things, tasting things, breaking things. Distractions are par for the course, and Sara’s at the center of it all, signing for deliveries, caring for participants, and creating dinner.

Sara Kapp_Adrienne“Well, once we got what a momo was figured out, we had to get a cow’s tongue. So we went to a local farm, got a cow’s tongue, and then drove an hour to get shrimp. Then we proceeded to make the most bizarre momos in history. Rinpoche took one bite and said, ‘It was better in the dream.’”

She laughs while showing me how to fold the momo with my fingers, how to seal it. Outside the summer night is falling, the trees going to black silhouettes against the star-struck Vermont sky. The kitchen lights take on a brighter glow and the fans at the windows push the damp, summer night through the screen. The clock ticks on. Dinner is going to be a little bit late tonight. Dinner’s often a bit late when Sara cooks. This isn’t food, it’s art.

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12 responses to “ Momo’s View of a Supermodel ”
  1. Nancy LeBlanc
    Jul 31, 2013

    Makes me long to be in the KCL, doing “Coffee Rota”. Sara is always so kind !

  2. Vickie Schafer
    Jul 24, 2013

    Very good Aaron, you nailed it! I could smell the kitchen and feel that early night air. Don’t really know which is the biggest work angel – darling you or darling Sara. Thanks to both of you.

  3. Cathy Baker
    Jul 23, 2013

    Great job of capturing Sara and KCL kitchen altogether with delightful imagery! Looking forward to your next offering!

  4. MargaretDdrescher
    Jul 23, 2013

    I heard you were a writer
    and now I know!
    Thankyou Aaron for your
    affectionate reflection on a super momo .

  5. Beside your ability to use prose to reveal the awesome delight of essential Sara, your words mold a heart container for viewing life there in KC’s kitchen. It makes me wish that you have written something more. I hope to see a story or poems from you further somewhere.

  6. Jackie Snyder
    Jul 22, 2013

    What a charming article. Earlier this year I had the privilege and pleasure of Ikebana ROTA under the guidance of Sara Kapp. I am grateful for Sara’s instruction, patience, and trust. Thank you Sara!

  7. Linda V. Lewis
    Jul 22, 2013

    Sweet and beautiful–like Sara!

  8. Seth Levinson
    Jul 22, 2013

    Loved this Aaron. Thank you! Sara has left some indelible memories in my upbringing as a practitioner. One of them was when I’d moved to NYC, living on the lower East Side. Quite poor at the time, I walked everywhere. Walking home one night from the Upper East Side, along 5th Av.? I was struck by a haunting feeling of being accompanied or watched. It was curious but not creepy (as it could have been in NYC in the mid-70s). After walking a very long block of the Bonwit Teller storefront, I realized that the entire block of display windows were peopled with manniqins of Sara.

  9. thank you Aaron, lovely tale of Sara

  10. Cara Thornley
    Jul 20, 2013

    What a delightful article, Aaron..
    Loved the ‘cow tongue mamo’ story…

  11. Dawa Lhatso
    Jul 20, 2013

    Aaron, thank you for this lovely article on Sara. I often think of her for inspiration when I have too much work to do, remembering her constant openness and good cheer as we saw her prepare and serve food all day, then arrange flowers late into the evening…I remember also arriving for a program at Karme Choling earlier this year, a bit shy at being the only nun. As soon as she saw me, she came up to me and gave me a big kiss–how welcome I felt! KI KI SO SO to this fabulous lady!

  12. Aaron: This article is lovely. I enjoyed your writing style very much. Thank you for this gift.

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