Children’s Day

by Leslie Gossett
photos by Jessica Warshaver

Queen community room

I think I was more excited than the children. Arriving at the center early in order to string lights and literally deck the halls with boughs, I was eager to see what the place would look like after sunset, lit with little lights, what the King and Queen would look like in their royal robes, and what sounds would fill the room as the Friction Quartet offered their beautiful music.

The first part of the afternoon was spent easily, families arriving, children meeting one another, and staff bustling around making everything perfect for the celebration. The parents were able to have a good long sitting practice upstairs while the children began to make paper crowns for themselves. Several children had their fortunes foretold by the magic of Alice.

shrine room childrenEveryone cheerfully transitioned into the Shrine Room for the most exciting thing yet- creating the children’s shrine! Richard Vogler led the children in an exploration and discovery of just how much the bowl of m&m’s could overflow, why there was a mirror in the bowl of rice, and exactly what sharks represent in terms of Great Eastern Sun Vision. The King and Queen dolls were placed with care, along with representations of the five senses, animal figurines, strings of lights, green boughs, tinsel, fans, and a bowl of candy. Even I got in line as Richie let us all take handfuls of m&m’s and place them in the offering bowl.

SingingNext, the children learned several traditional Shambhala songs with Sophia, and Mathilde, which they would later perform for the King and Queen.

Lining up in the hallway for the procession, waiting for the King and Queen to appear, the children were visibly excited. Each was handed a single white chrysanthemum as an offering. Once the Royal Couple made their appearance, awe swept over the onlookers. We all proceeded into the Shrine Room where they would hold court.

King and QueenFirst things first, the children offered the songs they had learned to Their Majesties. In return, they were told the story of Iliana. Complete with time to discuss whether or not a garuda would remain in the sky even to cook a pizza, and to ascertain that tigers like to dance on Saturday nights. Following this compelling tale, the children made offerings to the four dignities, and then the King and Queen presented each child with a gift.

Friction QuartetAs everyone recessed into the community room, the Friction Quartet and a potluck feast was waiting for our enjoyment. We were regaled by beautiful stringed instruments and delicious foods, as the Royal Couple generously entertained petitioners, granting blessings and words.

Eventually, the gathering transitioned into a dance party, with children playing and adults having a grand time.


The magic was certainly palpable, and it sure seemed to me like there w

as no doubt about the brilliance shining in each of our hearts, in spite of it being the longest night.

Thank you for your donations: The toys were donated to the SF Firefighter’s Toy Program, food to the SF Food Bank, clothing to Usagain.

profound brilliant


Leslie Gossett coordinates Shambhala Family and Children’s Programs as well as Young Meditator Programs in Northern California. She teaches mindfulness in public schools and yoga to children and adults in various contexts. Inspired to create a good human society that nurtures younger generations, she spends time engaged in doing just that.

She also works with words and her own mind on a regular basis. You can read more of her work at

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