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.


  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.

    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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