Through their volunteering, my parents made some loving connections with some special people in Bhutan. So when they built a home in the Bhutanese-style one friend, a high Lama, built them a prayer wheel for outside their front door.
Buddhist prayer wheels magnify the prayers on the outside with a spool of written copies on the inside which are “activated” with each spin. They come in many sizes from handheld to elephantine. This one is packed with thousands and thousands of copies of a mantra inside.
Although I’m not a Buddhist, I give this prayer wheel a spin every time I walk out the front door. It’s not because I personally believe in the prayers: I’m not a Buddhist. It’s not because I think “it can’t hurt”: I’m not superstitious.
I spin it to honor the art and passion of the people who created it. Their love is almost tangible, and I feel that the best way to honor it is to keep spinning.
This, to me, is the core of programming religious music in a public school classroom. When I program Bach, I am honoring his musicality, not his religiosity. I honor Mozart’s melodicism, Brahms’ passion, Palestrina’s polyphony.