Visit from Governor Hickenlooper


May 26, 2018

A group of us, led by Rinpoche and Dungse-la, received a visit by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper at the Sangdo Palri Temple a few days ago. Rinpoche led a tour of the Temple, each of the shrine rooms, and a 360 degree walk around the upper most level. The tour was marked by numerous questions and exclamations of awe and appreciation by the Governor. The Governor made sure that his personal aide, Connor, took a picture of him on the second story shrine room.

The Governor and his party, including his required State Trooper security, was hosted in the MSB Room with tea and snacks served gracefully by Natasha Carter, Nicholas Carter and Suzy Greanias. What followed was a sweet discussion he had with Suzy about the challenges of the gold leafing process.

Rinpoche provided a wonderful example to all of us regarding how to host an honored guest. He offered several gifts to the Governor including a Rupa of the Buddha beautifully wrapped in a white scarf. Rinpoche explained that this was a statue of the Buddha, made from an artist in Orissa, India, out of sand stone. He expressed that heoffers it with great appreciation of the Governors’ work. And Rinpoche requested that he continue his good work in the world and live long. 

With thanks, the Governor asked, “Where should I keep it, where I sleep or where I work?” Rinpoche suggested that he keep it wherever he gets the inspiration for altruistic work.

At one point, Connor his personal aide, indicated that it was time to move on to their next scheduled event. I was touched to hear the Governor very gently respond to Connor, “It’s ok, we can be a little bit late for our next event.”  He lingered to relish the last moments of the interactions and shared a witty anecdote.

As we walked outside onto the patio, the Governor was struck by the flagstone itself, indicating that he was trained as a geologist. He reached down, touched the stone and mused how the “wave patterns” reflected the history of the stone itself. Both Rinpoche and Nicholas explained a bit about our very special stone mason, Robert Sturm, that he designed the “lotus” flowers and cut every stone by hand.

As the Governor said his goodbyes, he took the time to address us in the greeting party, shook each persons hand, and expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to visit.We saw him to his car and he was off down the road.

Now for a bit of the backstory.

How in the world did this visit come about? Dungse-la and Connor are very close childhood friends who grew up together in Crestone, Colorado. Connor pursued a degree in Political Science and then an internship at the Governor’s office. After his internship, he took charge of the internship program, later became and aide and then the personal aide for the Governor, a position he has been serving in for several years.

Dungse-la and Connor had been in communication about the thepossibility for the Governor to visit the Temple. While Dungse La was teaching in Alaska, Conner gave him the good news that the Governor could visit. Dungse-la facilited this rare opportunity to come to fruition. 

On a personal note…last night a small groupof us were having a gathering at a local watering hole. We were regaling in the visit from the Governor and I asked Dungse-la if he had received any word from Connor since the visit. He said, “Yes, as a matter of fact I received a text from him.” With baited breath, I said, “So what did he say?” Dungse-la with his classic no big deal response, said, “Oh yeah, Connor said the Governor was blown away by the visit and kept talking about it the rest of the day.”