An Invitation, July 4, 2014
At last, the time was right for us to revisit Bodhirukarama. Ven. Amilasiri had informed us that the well had been finished and was fully functioning, and we had just received several donations, from Malaysia and Germany. We invited two nuns, soon to become bhikkhunis, to accompany us, along with Lily and a neighbor. On Saturday, June 21, we loaded the van with dry rations, root vegetables, and plenty of cleaning supplies. Luckily, the weather was perfect!
On arrival, we were greeted by a young monk whom we had never met before. In excellent English he told us that he had just joined the monastery. Before ordination, he had been a soldier, a nurse, and a teacher. Along the way, he learned sign language. He's been a monk for seven years and is very enthusiastic about caring for elderly monks. Because it was Saturday, all the novices, who usually stay at the monastery where they are studying, were there, helping to prepare the plates for the bedridden monks. We promptly put two and two together and hope to help him teach English to the novices to the point where they can play Buddhist Knowledge Quest!
The monastery was very quiet, so, while we were waiting for dana from local dayakas to arrive, the nuns toured the monastery, and Ken took some photos of the paintings of Jatakas in the vihara. When the food arrived, we added our dishes to the Buddha Puja. Then some of the food was carried down to the elderly monks, and we served the other monks and novices in the dining hall.
Buddhist Relief Mission has been supporting Ven. Amilasiri and the elderly monks since April 2010. With the help of many people, we have been able to provide food, medicine, robes, medical equipment, and a washing machine, which is still going strong. In 2011, when the monastery was in danger of losing its water supply, generous donors responded to an urgent appeal and provided enough money for Ven. Amilasiri to purchase the crucial parcel of land on which the well was located. Again, many Dhamma friends came forward to help a young novice, Ven. Pathmasiri, who needed surgery to repair a hole in his heart. He is now strong and healthy and doing very well. The latest effort was to build a well for the new elders' ward. To all who have joined us we again say Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!
Ven. Pathmasiri, 2011 and Now
The new well
We are honored that Ven. Amilasiri has invited us to sponsor the Kathina this year at Bodhirukarama, though we must admit that we are not sure what this entails. The first step is a ceremony at the monastery on Sunday, July 13, the day after the full moon. We will offer dana for all the monks, including a supply of under-robes. There is a formal ceremony, in which we offer flowers and a tray of betel leaves, as well as tea, sugar, and milk powder. We are, in effect, offering to provide the monks keeping the rains retreat at Bodhirukharama with all they need and asking them to depend on us. We're thrilled!
Lily is already making plans for a work detail to go down to the monastery and clean and beautify from top to bottom! Lots of friends and acquaintances are volunteering their time to go down and scrub and polish every surface. She also wants to put in some new shrubs and flowers. That will problably transpire around the end of this month.
In November, for the Kathina ceremony proper, we hope to rent a bus so that students, neighbors, and friends can join us. We expect that, at that time, many monks from other monasteries in Kurunegala will be invited to join. Already, our Burmese students have offered to help us procure robes through Makutarama, the Burmese monastery in Colombo. We are asking for help and advice from friends here about how to actually do our part of the Kathina ceremony, such as providing the robe dyed and sewn within one day, and all the rest. We've read about it the from the time of the Buddha, but this will be our first experience. Do we need Kandyan drummers?
We invite everyone to join in making this a truly joyous occasion. At the ceremony in November, we will post a list of all those who send donations so that their generosity is known and merit is shared. What happiness!
In quite a different vein, about three weeks ago, we had a new development in Dodanwela. We were invaded by wild pigs. We had had that problem in Anniwatte, but it was kept under control by closing the gate at night. We had heard that the animals were here as well, but we had not been bothered. Our house sits on a hillside. The lowest level is the front gate, which we keep closed at night. The drive curves up to the garage level, where the guest room and the vegetable garden are also located. We have put a fence around our bountiful garden to keep animals out. Our living area is one story up, with our lawn/garden and fish pond. Beside the house there is a short retaining wall with an open staircase which leads to a grove of spice trees. This is where the former watcher's house is, but that land is not included in our rental agreement. That is, however, the domain of the wild pigs, and they do not recognize the contract. For three consecutive nights, a herd of them (We did not see them, so we do not know how many.) came down the hill and wrought havoc in the yard. We guess they were looking for worms and tender roots. Fortunately, they limited themselves to the grass, without disturbing any of the flowers or leafy plants. It seems they were satisfied with what they found, for they did not continue down to the lower level. We feared it would just be a matter of time, however. What to do? Lily thought about it for about five minutes and said, "White plastic." We had not a clue what she meant. Lily explained to Ashoka what was needed, and we went shopping. As we were going around downtown, Ashoka stopped at the store where we buy bubble-wrap for mailing books and bought sixty meters of white plastic sheeting, about the same thickness as a garbage bag. Our gardener erected stakes the entire length of the hillside, one level up from the retaining wall, and stretched the plastic sheeting the whole way. It is very flimsy--almost any animal bigger than a gecko could knock it down--but it appears the pigs are afraid of it and don't want to go near it. The beasts have continued to dig up the earth above the fence, but we have not had a single intruder since then. Who knew? Obviously, Lily did! Every problem should be so easily solved! Already two friends have sworn that they are going to try to deter the critters in the same way.
Update: The white plastic worked for about two weeks. Unfortunately, it is not foolproof. The pigs have come through and torn up the yard. Will it continue? We'll let you know in the next report.
We have had a sick kitty. Nezumi never explained what had happened, but, somehow, she got into trouble. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed a wound on her side. As soon as we saw that it was not going to heal by itself, we took her to the vet. At first, he suggested that it was perhaps a snake bite, but then he wondered whether she was burned by something, perhaps a chemical. He closed the wound with stitches, and it seems to be healing nicely. For the first few days, she was not at all interested in food. Now, however, her appetite has returned, and she eats with gusto, particularly the wet packaged fish. The only problem is that she hates the hood. While she is wearing it, of course, she cannot groom herself at all. We remove it to feed her, and, as soon as she finishes, she begins washing, mostly licking her paws to clean her face. Inevitably, however, she heads for the sutures, and we have to put the hood back on. Most of the time she is restricted to the library so that we can keep the front door open for ventilation.
The other night, Ken decided to take her some food just before going to bed (about 1AM). He found her sitting on one of the chairs in the library with her head pointed to the chair back. He held the little dish of fish near her nose, but she did not turn her head. "Strange!" he thought. He put down the fish and began to lift her off the chair, figuring it would be better to feed her on the floor. Lifting her was not easy. "Perhaps," he thought, "her claws are stuck." He lifted her feet, but the claws were free. He lifted a little more until her body was completely in the air, but her head was still on the chair. "Oh, poor baby!" he cried. The velcro of her hood had attached itself to the knap of the upholstery. Had Ken not gone in at that time, she would have been trapped like that all night! He immediately overturned the chairs so that she could not sit on the seats anymore.
We bring her out every evening and let her sit on our laps without the hood while we watch TV (we now get Comedy Central and Sundance!), but we have to watch her very carefully. We certainly want the wound to heal as quickly as possible so that we can get rid of the hood. Yesterday morning, the doctor said that he does not need to see her until July 12. (For the last week, it has been every day!) She will have to wear the hood, however, until the end of the month. It's hard for us, but it is even harder for her. She is being admirably stoic in her misery! Her being ill makes us appreciate her good humor and delightful quirks all the more. She's a great cat, and we hope she'll be well soon! No pictures until she's back to her photogenic self.