This last week has been full in all the best ways. Food and singing, writing and school. Trick or treating. A birthday party. And now a book group retreat.
The week started off with community lunch, and I made sprouted moong dal coconut curry, a Mangalorean dish that Jaya used to make. Then on Monday we started school and I read chapter after chapter of books to the kids, drew out their schedules, and introduced the oldest two to my way of scheduling in time chunks. Which they love. They’ve been doing it every day to get their work done, and I think it’s giving them a feeling of control of their day. That’s what it does for me, though I may be deceiving myself there. I seem to have very little control over my day in reality. That’s a half joke.
We sang Jesus bhajans in the afternoon at Shekina Garden, in the golden light that comes in November, and I watered my new seedlings in my garden bed. Tuesday was more watering and trick or treating in the evening. Most people hadn’t remembered Halloween, as it isn’t really a Thai thing, but some people had and gave the kids treats. They caused a lot of joy, walking around the Walking Street (our night market) in their costumes.
Wednesday was my day to guide meditation, and then I had Thai class, and then we drove around looking for a person’s house, and we never did find it. I drove the chariot with the kids, since Chinua had the car in Chiang Mai, and we wove in and out of villages, through rice fields and jungles. Though we didn’t find the house, it was very, very beautiful, with cool November air in our hair as we drove. Eventually we gave up on looking for the house, and went home.
And Thursday was the best day of the week, as it was my friend Leaf’s birthday and I had the privilege of helping to throw her a birthday party. Solomon and I baked a cake, getting every dish dirty, and I bought a new dress at the second hand shop in town. It was a dress up party, so in the evening, Chinua and I had fun getting dressed and putting feathers in our hair. We had the party at a nearby, beautiful restaurant, and there were candles and lights, cushions on the grass, the river rushing nearby, music and dancing. We had the tiniest soul train in the world and Chinua danced with me, which happens very, very rarely. It was beautiful. People from around the world had sent Leaf snippets of thoughts and blessings, and as we read them out, the love piled up. It’s rare that so much appreciation of a person’s care accumulates in one evening. It’s beautiful when it happens. It was a true celebration of her, with many friends. And she has given to so many people over the years. Her wisdom, creativity and generosity is renowned. How beautiful to have it spoken out.
The next morning, I worked on my launch info and final formatting of my new book, and then I drove three hours down the mountain to get to my book group retreat. I’ve been part of a book reading group for the last three years, though I haven’t made it to meetings as often as I should, because of my distance and busy life. This was their 24 year anniversary retreat, and I was determined to make it, so I drove around curves and up and down mountains. The drive was beautiful. The Mexican sunflowers are blooming on the sides of the roads, and the yellow flowering trees are in bloom. Marigolds were planted everywhere for the king’s cremation, so the entire stretch of road was glowing in different shades of yellow.
The retreat has been lovely. Today is the last day, and I’m finally taking a moment to write. We hiked, and talked, and ate. People shared memories of their time in the group, and talked about life back when they first came to Thailand. (It’s an expat group of women.) There is a lot of wisdom in the group. I’m more than twenty years younger than any of the other women, and I love to hear their experiences in Laos, India, and Thailand in the seventies and eighties. Life here was so different then. I wish I could catch a glimpse of it.
We went for a hike yesterday, among pines and along a mountain ridge. I have been weary, doing so many different things since before I left for America. But being outside in the golden air, surprised by flowers that appear suddenly in the jungle, weariness slips away. We stepped on pine needles and through baby mango tree orchards. We walked through a Hmong village and saw rose farms. It was beautiful.
I’m hoping the coming week will be a little less full, to be honest, but I treasure these ones that are so busy, because they are filled to the brim with good things: with life and God and people and work. And there are flowers everywhere.
I’m thankful for the flowers.
Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as a dollar a month, and get extra question and answer video posts and other content. Thanks so much to this month’s new patrons: Brittani Truby, Alicia Wiggin, and Kathleen Anderson. Your support keeps this writer going!
Patrons, your video will be up this week. Books have been sent to third-tier supporters. The link is in your Patreon messages. Thank you so much!