Thursday, June 15, 2006

Early morning food alms walking with the monks...

Getting up off the thin mattress on the hard wood floor, I try to shake the tired feeling from my body in time to meet up with the monks as they head out on their daily alms walk. Most nights, I toss and turn, trying vanely to find a soft spot on the wood floor. The fan does indeed keep the bugs off me... well, most of the time... but all it seems to do is blow hot humid air over my body.

I say usually it keeps the bugs off.... last night, I lay there on the floor, slowly breathing in and out... counting the breaths is a great way to forget about the hard floor and drifting off to la la land. Twice I'd almost fallen into blessed sleep, when I noticed something crawling on my leg. The first time, I just shook it off and began counting by breath again.

When the little critter interrupted my slide into sleep a second time, I bolted straight up into a sitting position and.... there, I could see through the faint light coming through the windows ... crawling on my shin was this huge, dirty, ugly brown cockroach! Now I jumped to my feet as the nasty bug tried to race away by crawling up the wall.

No... I didn't kill it! Since I've been learning from the Abbott not to kill anything... even on the early morning alms walk, the Abbott has frequently stopped, called me up to him and pointed out a worm, slug, thousand legged insect moving along the road and has asked me to help move it to the security of the side of the road. Okay.... but with my sleep interrupted and now my skin crawling because this creature has invaded my space.... I was not feeling that Buddhist...

So .. I wacked it hard enough to knock it unconscious long enough to gather it up and unceremoniously toss it out the window! Goodnight and good riddence bug!

The third time as I drifted off to sleep, I thought to myself... what's up with me and cockroaches? First the breakfast table in Bangkok and now my meager bed in NongKhai!

Okay.. enough about me and back to the early morning monk walk... The monks and novices, (usually 5 to 8 of them) gather in front of the university just before 6 a.m. The Abbott arrives shortly thereafter and like a mother duckling, leads the single file row of monks and novices that fall in behind him. The Abbott follows are set route each day, and it would seem that pretty much the same people are there, waiting along side the road to give their food to the monks.

What food is given? Sticky rice is pretty much the basic staple... hot and fresh, scooped out of the woven grass basket, by hand, and placed into each of the monk's alm bowls as they file past. Other foods include, hard boiled egges, bottles of water, various kinds of sauces which have been packaged in little plastic bags, fruit, pastries, and even sometimes people give money.

When the Abbott's bowl has gotten too full, he usually calls me up to walk beside him and hand carry some of the surplus food. Everytime I've gone out on walks with the monks, their bowls have been overflowing with food by the time we finish our 30 minute walk.

Back at the temple, the food is taken out of the alms bowls and placed in dishes for 7 a.m. breakfast. After the Abbott eats breakfast, I can sit down and have the left overs... which usually still means a lot of food.

Kia Ora (Hello) from a Krazy Monkey down under in NEW ZEALAND. I was surfing the blog world when your blog popped up. It was very interesting to read about something we don't read every day. It must of been quite an experience.
Love the stories they are great. I hope this note finds you well. The photos are my favorite.
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