Tales of Joy #3

Sawadhi kha, 🙏dear readers.

My first day in Thailand felt quite significant, for myself and for the entire community.

Some of you may recall from last year’s Tales:

I reported a sense of physical and energetic deterioration in the S.D.S. (Bangkok) center’s vitality level.
For one thing, Ajahn Chom’s work crew was spending all their time in the southern center, creating fantastic new water features and landscaping miracles every day.

Meanwhile, the monsoons, pollution and extreme heat up in Bangkok take a rapid and unrelenting toll on everything metal, wood and bamboo.

And no one seemed assured of a return to equanimity with the passing of our charismatic leader, Maechee Sansanee (a.k.a. KhunMae/Grandma) a few months before. So I was secretly hoping that I’d be spending most of my time down south, in Bodhissatva Valley. Luckily, I’m not in charge of most decisions; my best friend Nawng Joy is.

So I picked up an Asian hoe, that first day, and started working alongside Chom’s crew, who had magically returned north. As a woman and an elder falang (foreigner), I have to be pretty bossy and assertive, not laying down my work tool…cause a man or boy will immediately commandeer it.

Within an hour, something radical happened: the nuns, the kitchen staff, then the office staff, the graphics staff, the front shop and public relations people all began to show up and take part in this huge clearing, landscaping and hauling brush project!

Even Nawng Joy showed up to sweep, which is unheard of! About eighty of us were working at the speed of light!

Later that evening at dusk, everyone was asked to speak, at the community meeting:
Ajahn Chom started:

I’ve been afraid to come back here… seeing all the wreckage. It felt like we just couldn’t salvage this place. But with the entire community pitching in, now I believe we can…if this group comes together like this once a month.

Next, my son Somchai spoke:

After I renovated Pa Joy’s house, I looked beyond Ban Pa Joy and I was surprised to see that it was a real mess everywhere! I began to wonder if we could rehabilitate the entire area. So I collected the guys and we began clearing tree branches to let the sun in, reclaiming the walkways from the weeds, clearing away the garbage and finishing up long-abandoned projects.

One of the teenage residents who’d spent most of her life here, said shyly:

It felt like the old days, suddenly, when Khunmae wanted to finish a really big project, and everyone would work all night! It seems like she’s back.

When it was my turn (using Nawng Joy as my translator):

I see that each group – the workmen from Issan, the busy office staff, the kitchen crew, the nuns… We each have a slightly different vibration, and rhythm, and vocabulary. It’s like the U.N. assembly of nations. But a thin layer of separation begins to grow a little thicker every day. When we all come together like today: we laugh and make mistakes and help each other. We all get bit by the same red ants! There’s something very precious about it.

Read the complete newsletter #3: (click here to read or download Tales of Joy #3 pdf)