As Christmas school vacation approached, we knew what we had to do: take advantage of the vacation to visit Israel and Thailand.
It was our most unusual Christmas ever.
When we visited Leah in Chiang Mai that December, we learned that on her walks around the city, she'd wandered into the precincts of a temple, Wat Sirisoda, where she met a friendly young monk, her own age, Ankhan Jirapornkanda, who called himself Tony. We visited Tony at the temple where he lived, and there, he explained to the family the four noble truths and the eightfold path, which are principles underlying the Buddhist religion. I'm still in touch with Tony via Facebook, if you can believe that. Last time I heard from him, he said he was "deeply happy." He calls me Mom.
|Here's the family in Chiang Mai, Thailand, visiting our monk friend, Ankhan Jirapornkanda, who is of Karen descent, and goes by the name Tony.|
In addition to visiting Tony at Wat Sirisoda in Chiang Mai, we also visited one of Chiang Mai's most revered sites, a hilltop temple called Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.
|Dragon staircase leading to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep|
There was a palpable sense of the sacred on that hilltop, created not only by the exquisite architecture itself, but also by the feeling of reverence in the pilgrims stepping unshod in its courtyards. Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep caught my breath and captured my imagination.
That sense of the holy inspired the creation of not one, but two art quilts showing the temple, the staircase, and the verdant hillside.
|Buddhist Temple I--2008. The section at the bottom of this quilt states the Buddhist eightfold path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.|
I'm humbly and gratefully awed.