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Posted on Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 9 a.m.

Finally finding time for church/temple in the space of summer

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

A girlfriend who attends St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church once told me how invaluable that one hour a week every Sunday morning was for her, to sit, reflect, pray, and be alone.

To hear her describe it, I wanted to go, too.

(I remember when my children were babies, the only time I was ever alone was three precious minutes a day in the shower — only the first half of the shower, mind you — before they invariably poked their heads in looking for me again.)

However, during the school year, I often find that temple is simply one thing too many for me to manage. During the school year, the children and I are so exhausted all the time, the roads are so long, the snow is so deep — that we never quite make it all the way across town to temple.

I know, I know, if I were a better person, I would find time to do it year-round like normal people. If it were higher on my priority list, I would make time for it like everyone else. Going to temple only once or twice year on holy days only (and late at that) is flimsy, tenuous, lame.

However, for better or for worse, summers are when the children and I finally get around to attending services every Sunday. I figure, better in the summer than never. Better some ad hoc religious education than none. Someday we will manage to keep it up through the rest of the year.

Seven-year-old Little Brother knows that this is a special time.

On Sunday mornings (only), he wakes up at 6:30 in the morning and asks, “Is it time to go to temple?”

I tell him that it is only 6:30 and he has two more hours before we have to go. He goes back to sleep and wakes up again at 7:30, “Now is it time to go to temple?”

No, one more hour.

He sleeps thirty more minutes and then gets up and gets ready on his own. (For a 7 year old, getting ready on his own is huge.) He does not complain about having to wear a collared shirt.

Every week, he packs a notebook and some crayons, “So I can draw a picture for Reverend.”

We sit by a window so that he can look outside in case he gets restless, but lately he needs less and less distraction to get through the hour-long service. Now he is singing along with the choir, following along in the book, trying to meditate on his own, peeking to make sure my eyes are closed, too.

When his teenage sisters manage to wake up in time to go with us, he proudly introduces them all around, “These are my sisters.”

I like that during the summer, I can go to temple without my phone or my watch. People ask after my parents. I have the time to make small talk with the church ladies. I have the space in my head to be able to offer to help. I can linger after services.

I also like having the chance to say the words of the prayers out loud, such as this straightforward passage from “Golden Chain of Love”:

“I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that on what I do now, depends not only my happiness or unhappiness but also those of others.”

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Michigan and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is an editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog and a contributor for Chicago is the World. She is on the Advisory Board of American Citizens for Justice. She team-teaches "Asian Pacific American History and the Law" at University of Michigan and University of Michigan Dearborn. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at



Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

Thanks for sharing the prayer. Since this is a topic posted under the title "FAITH", I am trying to understand the 'faith' of the person. The prayer suggests forming a human chain, and describes the characteristics of such association, connection, bonding, partnership, and relationship between humans of that chain. What is Faith? For example, in The New Testament Book of John, Chapter 20, verse 29, Jesus spoke to Thomas: "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." The word 'belief' is associated with the idea of 'faith'. These words mean or convey trust in someone or something. If the author wants to share her faith, I am not able to discern it from the post or the prayer named 'Golden Chain of Love'.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Mon, Aug 15, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

Thanks for your thoughts! Here is the whole text of that prayer, for your reference: Golden Chain of Love I am a link in Amida Buddha's golden chain of love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong. I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, To say pure and beautiful words, And to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that on what I do now, depends not only my happiness or unhappiness but also those of others. May every link in Amida Buddha's golden chain of love Become bright and strong, and may we all attain Perfect Peace. Namu Amida Butsu


Mon, Aug 15, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

Attending Church or Temple speaks of man as a social being and it represents man's social attitude and behavior. By attending Church or Temple, you join a few others with similar perceptions about God or share similar practices that involve acts of worship. While I have no problem with going to a Church or Temple, I would still recommend that man must know himself better. Spirituality is about man's relationship with himself. If man is a created object, his body substance is of spiritual nature. By understanding the nature of this spiritual substance, man describes himself as a spiritual being and establishes a spiritual relationship with himself. Man gets connected to God when he understands as to what it means to be a substance and as to what it means to exist.


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

Not being familiar with this prayer, I looked it up. It is beautiful and I believe it stretches across humanity, regardless of religious affiliation. Thank you for sharing this.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

If one believes in God it occurs to me one should devote serious time to seeking an understanding of what ones relationship with God should be, or more importunately what Gods expectation of that relationship is. There is a dangerously thin line between that and inventing ones own God who's "expectations" happen to coincide with ones life style and self created value system. By way of full discloser i attend an organized Christian Church most every Sunday.