Francisco Family Adventure Pt. 1 - Boston Buddha Vararam Temple

posted on: March 13, 2013

During February, I was on my own personal secret mission to give back and pay forward in whatever way inspired me.  When I read Rhoda's blog post, Why Weird is Wonderful: A Letter from a Single Mom to her Daughter, I remembered what it felt like when I was her daughter's age.  Eleven years old, trying to figure out my identity and where I fit in with my peers, while living with a single mom who was doing her best to be a sole provider.  Around 12 years old, during the middle school and high school years, my hormones kicked in along with my desire to rebel against my mother and carve my own path in the world as a moody and independent teenager who didn't need mom's help anymore.  How I wish I could have captured my mother and I just before that shift, when she was my biggest superhero and I was her little eager apprentice.

Another thing that struck me while reading Rhoda's post, is that I don't have any images with my grandmother, mother, and myself in the same image.  I have images of them separately, but I can't recall seeing any of us all together.  My grandmother didn't live long after I was born, and in many ways, not having a photo of us together makes her feel even more distant and separate to me.  I didn't want this to be the case for 11-year-old Hannah.  While her grandmother Rose has multiple children, Hannah only has one grandmother, and she's so lucky that they live together and get to spend so much time together right now.  As we all know, life is too short, and these moments don't get to last forever.

So, on an inspired whim, I offered the Francisco family a gift- to document a small slice of their life just as it is right now.  A day of them sharing and discovering things together, with me tagging along capturing moments as they happen on a random Saturday in February.  Here is what I saw, and what I learned....

Boston Buddhist Vararam Temple

We started our shoot with a few quiet moments at the Boston Buddha Vararam Temple in Bedford, MA.  Like most things in New England, the outside of the building is fairly understated and the real beauty unfolds as you discover the secrets within.  If you decide to become adventurous and visit a Buddhist temple, it is customary to remove your shoes at the door.

Remove shoes before entering the buddhist temple

Praying and kneeling before buddha

It is still through watching her mother and grandmother, that Hannah comes to understand the importance of rituals, sacred traditions, and ways of fostering a spiritual connection. The subtle differences in how they hold their fingers, whether they close their eyes, and bow their heads, reflect their uniqueness and similarities all at once.

Buddhist prayer

Making a donation to Buddhist temple

Subtle moments, such as grandma Rose, remaining in her own space and prayer even after her daughter and granddaughter have stood up, show the differences in pace and ritual as they relate to their personalities and different stages of life right now.

Grandma Rose in Buddhist Prayer

While this particular temple mostly serves Thai speakers and visitors, it is open to everyone with guided chants and meditations on Sundays, and even melon carving lessons on Saturday evenings, which we discovered by speaking to the monk who was present while we were there.


Buddhist monk and Rhoda



Hannah taking a picture of buddha statues

Hannah loves taking photos with her phone and created some great little portraits of me, which she edited with filters and snowflakes all while we were having lunch at Flatbread Co. before we started our adventures together.  She sings along and dances in her seat when she likes a song- in fact, we both had a little jam in our seat moment when Mumford & Sons started playing- and she loves beautiful handcrafts like this paper bouquet sitting near the door as we left the temple.

Origami Paper Craft Bouquet

Tomorrow, I'll share the second part of our adventure together. Feel free to sign up and have my blog delivered weekly to your email, or to subscribe for instant updates using any of the RSS feed options.

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