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No Compromise

Centering my prayer on my children, I open my life to the future of my dreams.

Victory—Kronskie Dickenson-Foster with her husband, Louis, and children (l-r), Akemi and Miles, in Antigua, January 2024.

by Kronskie Dickenson-Foster
Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda

To young people, I say: No matter how fine a suit may seem, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit! Don’t go squeezing into a suit like that, telling yourself it looks all right; in the end, you won’t be able to breathe. I’m talking, of course, about relationships.

I found myself bound up in just such a fit in 2016. After three years and a thousand lies in the mirror, I didn’t have breath enough to tell one more. I was with a man who vented his anger on me and my children. I summoned the courage to end a bad situation and began building from the foundation, because the foundation was all that was left. 

I brought to the Gohonzon a basic question: What do I value to my core? And the answer was: My faith and my children.

It took some time to give voice to the prayer that followed—it came on its own time—but some months later, there it was: I want a partner who supports my faith and loves children. When this person did show up, it was on the heels of a hurricane.  

Antiguan weathermen are true professionals, calmly reporting Earth’s most alarming facts. But the fact of Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, barreling toward our sister island, Barbuda, rattled the cool of even our most veteran reporters. No one knew what to expect. 

Irma made landfall on Sept. 6, 2017, in Barbuda, causing catastrophic damage. In its wake, I got a call from the region men’s leader, Louis, from his home in Miami. He was trying to get hold of the Antigua District men’s leader. We talked briefly, and I assured him I was all right and updated him on the status of the members I’d made contact with. He thanked me earnestly and then we hung up. And then I sat there awhile with this feeling—I wasn’t sure quite what—but a feeling that seemed worth chanting about. So I sat down to do just that, and continued in the following days as Irma carried on toward Miami. 

I was chanting when Irma struck Miami, and thought to myself: Check and see that Louis is OK! As it happens, a tree had fallen in his backyard, downing his power line; he was in his truck, charging his phone to check in on the members.

Over the following months, we got to speaking and I discovered that he had always wanted to be a father. We talked and talked and then began to visit each other. The children liked him and he them. We talked some more and then, in August of 2018, we married. Louis moved to Antigua the following month, into our little home—a tight fit, but it felt just right.

Centering on my faith and my children, I began to sense a shift within my life. I’d been the Antigua District women’s leader since 2009, and my focus had been on the women’s members. But my prayer was focused now more on the future—my own future as well as those of my children and the youth of Antigua. In 2019, I began to get more involved with these youth, discussing their hopes and their worries. Some seek camaraderie in gangs, others find relief in drugs. This is what I’ve understood speaking with them. And in these conversations, I’ve realized that less talk and more proof is the way. 

Photo courtesy of Kronskie Dickenson-Foster.

One young woman just refused to give chanting a shot. For over a year I encouraged her to write out her goals and try it. She wouldn’t. She thought I was peddling some magic spell.  

“This won’t work,” she’d say. And of her dreams, “They won’t happen.” 

“Yes it will! Yes they can!” I’d say. But I realized I needed to show actual proof—my words weren’t getting through.

I haven’t mentioned it, but I run my own dental clinic. Teeth, I love. Business, I hate. Fortunately for me, Louis has a background in business! When Louis arrived, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. As a result, we started bringing in many more clients. As the business grew, so did our dreams for kosen-rufu in Antigua.

Our home could seat 10 for a discussion meeting, but we wanted to host more. As a family, we listed out the features of our dream home. We wanted a veranda overlooking the ocean and a “daimoku room” seating 25. We started house hunting in May. Our realtor took us from house to house. Quietly, I chanted fierce daimoku to banish any hint of compromise from my heart. Ours would be a kosen-rufu home to inspire others to strive toward their dreams. Rounding the corner of a hill, that home, with its seaside veranda, came into view. 

Walking from room to room, my heart hummed with certainty: This is it! 

Clinching the house proved a battle, but that’s a story for another time. I showed photos of the house to the young woman I mentioned, who was amazed. And what do you know, the next time I called, she’d made her own list and started chanting in earnest. She received the Gohonzon last November and joined us at our home, where we hosted Antigua’s New Year’s gongyo meeting.  

More and more, I want to discuss Buddhism with the youth. My dental clinic is just down the street from a high school, which gets out at 1 p.m., on my Thursday lunch hour. It’s a sight to behold, those kids and their freedom. Sometimes a fight breaks out and kids rush in with their phones outstretched. I’ve started taking my Thursday lunch a little early to beat the rush. When the bell rings and the school doors burst open and those kids come tumbling out, I’ll be out front of my clinic, greeting and talking with any that I can. Whether they are just in need of a sympathetic ear or have a dream they feel is beyond their reach, to each of them, I say: “Don’t compromise! Please want the very best for yourself!” My hopes and dreams are with them, and I know that with Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and Ikeda Sensei’s encouragement, the future is bright for Antigua. 

February 2, 2024, World Tribune, p. 5

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