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May 05
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Dinner with Friends and a Strawberry Pie

This Shambhala Day I lived out the mindfulness story, the very famous one about the cliff and the strawberry.

A man is hiking and falls near the edge of a cliff. He is about to tumble to the ledge below where he sees a tiger waiting with an open mouth and a growl. The man is perched on the cliff not knowing if he can escape. Then, suddenly, he notices something. It’s small, red, juicy and edible. He reaches for the wild strawberry and savors it. My how delicious!

The year of the earth pig, 2019, would be different for members of the New York Center. Like the story, we were on a kind of

Earth Boar Painting, photo and art by Lisa Epstein

precipice facing many dilemmas and decisions. With our long-time Center recently closed, we were newly homeless.  Although we would celebrate Shambhala Day at a rented venue, so much was shockingly changed.

For the first time, our New Year’s ceremony was held many days past the lunar holiday.  How would we spend Tuesday, the actual day of Shambhala Day? For twenty years I had always been with local sangha on this important day. What to do? I decided to host a small gathering for neighborhood friends.

The petite-pig-party plans were in full swing! I wanted to keep things simple, especially the food. The main meal would be potluck and I would serve dessert and drinks. Pink was the theme, what else would you think in the year of the pig? Everything would be rich and earthy. I was going to make a strawberry pie.

Pig Painting, photo and art by Lisa Epstein

Rhymed invitations were sent and soon Shambhala Day dawned. On a warm, 60-degree day, after morning practice and afternoon party-prep, it was time for décor. Bright warm tones expressed the earth element and inky pig pictures, the year. Finally, the guests arrived. Everyone had taken the suggestion, “Dress: festive and you might think pink!” All five of us were dressed in various shades. We wore light pink, bright pink, fuchsia, mauve and flower-delight-pink. All expressed a sense of celebration.

We were thrilled to be together on this most auspicious day of the new year, on the REAL Shambhala day with its nearly new moon.  We drank “Laughing Pig Rose” and enjoyed our small neighborhood gathering. We relished the sweet and simple qualities of the female earth pig year and offered an appropriate toast: to true, deep, active, loving-care for all the world.

After the delicious meal and lively conversation, it was time for dessert.  The strawberry pie was ready but not the whipped cream topping. I had, however, specially chilled the bowl and beaters in preparation.

Strawberry Pie, photo credit Lisa Epstein

As soon as the blender started, I knew something was wrong. Instantly the cream spurted out of the bowl, flying in spirals through

the air and all over the counter. The mixing bowl was too shallow and I desperately grabbed one with taller sides. Now I had a deep bowl that wasn’t chilled. I cheerfully announced, “It will be done in just a minute!” and confidently applied the electric beaters again. I waited… and waited, but…nothing! The cream was not thickening. Finally, just as I was about to give up, whipped peaks magically appeared.

Strawberry Pie, photo credit Lisa Epstein

It wasn’t perfect whipped cream, but thick enough. The topping added a decadent flourish to the pie and the sweet strawberries sparkled in the light. Finally, dessert was a success! Afterwards, we said our thanks and farewells and the party dispersed. The revelers paraded down the brownstone stairs and into the first night of the New Year…

What will the future bring? What challenges may arise in Shambhala and the world at large? We don’t know. However, in the midst of many unknowns and the hard work of change – we have community, celebration, dinner with friends and a strawberry pie! My, how delicious.

Lisa Epstein is a designer, project manager, teacher and nature-lover. A long-time kado (ikebana) practitioner, she especially enjoys using natural materials to energize space and foster community. For many years she was part of the team who create the environment for the New York Center on Shambhala Day, celebrating each animal and element in paper, ink and flowers. Lisa has held various leadership positions in Shambhala and helped to develop and coordinate many contemplative arts programs and events. She holds a Masters in Interior design from Pratt Institute.

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2 responses to “ Dinner with Friends and a Strawberry Pie ”
  1. Christine Heming
    May 10, 2019

    Bravo Lisa for your great spirit! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a lovely deliciously pink Shambhala Day celebrated with loved ones and in a frenzy of strawberry whipped cream pink warriorship! Bravo Lisa!

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