MONK AT MY DOOR IN MYANMAR

Monks and nuns walking together in Yangon, Myanmar.

There was a faint tap at the door, nothing out of the ordinary. People are constantly pounding on my door. A salesperson tries to pitch an air conditioner. The neighbor boy wants to show me his 3D puzzle. A dozen children try to push their way through. But, something about this knock was different.

When I opened the door I was surprised to see a monk standing there. He seemed just as shocked to see me. Both of us stumbled over words to say for a moment, acting as if we had inconvenienced each other.

“What’s your name?”

That’s the only thing I could think to ask at a loss for words.

He replied with something I couldn’t quite understand, still staring at me with his young, curious eyes. He must have been around 16 or 17. The same age as many of my students in Myanmar.

I asked if he was looking for someone, for something, to which he said what sounded like a name. I apologized, politely waved, bowed a bit, and closed the door slowly to see him turn around and knock on my neighbor’s door.

What a beautiful chance encounter. The simple meeting of a monk at my door, both of us out of our element, two worlds collided, in a dingy stairwell of some rundown apartment building in Yangon. Somehow, with so few words, and in the span of about a minute, I was gifted with something I can’t quite explain.

After he left, I couldn’t help but think I had made a mistake. Should I have invited him in? Was I supposed to give him something? Was it actually me he was looking for? I wish I had welcomed him into my home, and can only hope I get another opportunity to do so.

Comments

  1. Considering monks go on almsround every morning, he could've been coming for food depending on when this was during the day.

    Rice and/or vegetables and curry is a simple offering you can give for good merit (an a more awesome Burmese experience!).

    Just a consideration.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Austin,

      Thanks for taking time to check out my blog, and for leaving a comment. I usually watch the monks every morning as I live in a very local neighborhood. It's fun to watch my neighbors form a line to give them curries, necessities, and/or money.

      This monk stopped by in the late afternoon/early evening, which is why I was so surprised. I don't live on the ground floor. Monks rarely go inside a building, so he must have been looking for someone in particular.

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