April 30, 2012
Monk with Chrysanthemums
When I lived in Thailand, garlands of silk chrysanthemums and plastic jasmine blossoms were draped respectfully over every Buddha statue, Thai spirit house and Bodhi tree in my little city. Spiritual practice was woven into the fabric of daily life. We burned incense at our gate to keep wandering spirits at bay. We made food offerings to statues of Thailand's first kings to show respect, and we gave morning alms to the monks who walked barefoot past our house in the early morning.
My son, who is half Thai, has only our little Buddha statues at home and this life-sized statue of a seated Chinese monk to ponder in our Hudson Valley home. Perhaps because of this, each time we go to our favorite local market, we visit the Chinese monk seated quietly in the window of an unrented shopfront nearby. We bow respectfully to him to honor the practice of mindfulness and the teachings of the Buddha.
It always makes me a little homesick for my beloved Chiang Mai. (Not too homesick, however, because there are no raspberries, good chocolate bars or affordable bottles of red wine there!)