Monday, December 9, 2019

Almsgiving on Sunday and an Answered Prayer!

Before I describe my Sunday, I want to pause for a moment to link up with Angela on her Pause in Advent on this second Sunday in Advent.  Angela explains that "advent" means "coming" and she mentions a banquet where the host tells his guests, "Come, everything is ready."

I thought it was interesting that she should mention the preparation of a feast and inviting guests to come to it and how important the preparation of a meal and an invitation to participate seems to be across cultures and religions.

I have been spending the majority of the last few days preparing a special type of meal, called an almsgiving, to which I had invited the Buddhist monks from the Temple to attend and family and friends to participate.

My friend R stayed the night with me, last night, and we did as much of the cooking as we could do ahead of time.  This morning, R and I prepared the rest of the meal, warmed up all the curries that had been prepared earlier.

Almsgiving Lunch 
Almsgiving Menu:

White rice
Red rice
Rice sticks (noodles) with vegetables
Bread and butter

Cashew curry
Dhal curry
Curried garbanzo beans (and plain boiled ones for the one monk who is unable to eat spicy food)
Cucumber/tomato/red onion salad with hard boiled eggs, halved
Sauted green beans
Mallung (shredded greens - kale - with coconut)
Pappadum (fried lentil wafers)

- Variety of candies/sweets - thala guli (sesame and jaggery candy), chocolates, brownies, mini eclairs, individual chocolate mousse desserts
- Variety of fresh fruits, cut up (grapes, apples, papaya, persimmons, tangerines)
- Yogurt and treacle

- Orange Juice, water, hot water for the one monk who prefers hot water.

Before the monks arrived, I covered the living room sofas with white sheets as is our custom:

Covered Chairs
Of course, a certain kitty had to check it out:

"Who is on the covered sofas?"
"I'm hiding my face so Mummy can't see me!"

Fortunately, I was able to dust the sheets off before the monks arrived!  In any case, the monks like cats and there is a cat in the temple.

Everything was ready by 10:30 a.m., when cousin V, her husband N, and cousin P arrived.  We had a few minutes to chat, before the monks arrived at 11:00 a.m.  I bade them to enter in a more formal manner than I had greeted my cousins.  They brought the reliquary which we placed on the top of the tall, round side table in front of the bookcase (it is covered with a gold cloth).  The tray of offerings, vase of flowers, etc. were placed on the trolley table in front of it.  Blessings were said, and I mentioned my friend Tania and others who needed special blessings.  Afterwards, the monks were served their lunch.  My cousins and friend R helped with the serving. 

Monks Having their Lunch
According to the laws regulating the monks' activities, they need to eat their last meal of the day before 12 noon.  They may not eat again until they have breakfast the following morning.  They may not help themselves to any food that is not offered to them and they wait to be served.  They may not ask for anything for themselves, but, they may ask that another monk be served and, by tradition, when you serve one monk, you serve all the monks.  If they don't want any thing that is served to them, they indicate so by holding one hand over the plates or begging bowls (they didn't bring their begging bowls with them, this time; last year, they did).  Traditionally, the rest of us don't eat until they have finished eating and left. 

After the monks had eaten their lunch, they gave a sermon (on the subject of  the reality of change or impermanance), merits accrued from the almsgiving were transferred to our departed loved ones, and more blessings were chanted to bless everyone, including friend T and others. 

None of my Buddhist relatives or friends were able to attend my almsgiving, this year.  Cousin P, Cousin V and her husband, and friend R are all Catholic.  But, they came to help me and served the monks and listened to the sermon which followed.  As my daughter put it, I participate in their Rosary prayer gatherings and they participate in my almsgivings. 

After the monks left, we had lunch.  Then, cousin P left, but, cousin V, her husband, and friend R stayed to help me put away the food, remove the chair covers, put some of the furniture back in place, etc.  I packed up some food for them to take home, as well.

Then, I packed another container of food and we all went to the hospital to visit friend T (cousin V and her husband gave friend R and me a ride).  The food was for her sister and other family members.  We went in one by one, since only two at a time were allowed in her room, and her boyfriend was already there.  And that's where the answered prayer part of my post title comes in!  Friend T, who was unresponsive yesterday, was up!  Off the ventilator and breathing on her own!  Responsive!  Talking!  She has a weakness in her right side, but, she not paralyzed!  For someone who was given a 50/50 chance, she seems to have beaten the odds!  She thanked me for coming to see her!  We were all so happy!  I asked her sister when the ventilator was taken out and she said, shortly after 12 noon!  I know she had a lot of people praying for her and we are all convinced that her recovery is in answer to all our prayers!  It is nothing short of a miracle!

Then, we all came back to my house for a little bit.  After cousin V and her husband left, I drove friend R home.  I was tired after I came home, so, had a cup of tea and rested a bit.  Then, I dished up some of the almsgiving food to take over to my neighbor S, across the street, but, when I called her to tell her I was bringing over some food for her, she said she was just about to bring me some Armenian food her mother had made!  So, she came over with her food and I gave her some of my food and we both laughed about our food exchange. 

I called cousin P to give her the good news about friend T (she and her daughter had gone to see T, yesterday, and cousin P had said she was shocked to see her like that) and also called the Temple and spoke to the monks and told them the good news about friend T.  They were so happy to hear it.

Then, I put away the last remaining bits of food and washed all the dishes and pans! One load in the dishwasher and the rest by hand.  I will put them away, tomorrow, and do the laundry, tomorrow, too. 

Cousin P called me later in the evening to check on me and we chatted for a long time.  Friend R called, too, to say she felt guilty about leaving me to do the washing up by myself, but, I told her she had been more than helpful with all the prep work.  Besides, she has to go to work, tomorrow, while I have the whole day to put things away, etc.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Friend T's miraculous recovery
- The almsgiving went off very well
- My cousins and friend participating and helping me
- A working dishwasher!
- Neighbor S bringing me more food!

Monday's To Do List:
- Put away washed dishes
- Laundry
- Iron the table covers and cloth napkins
- Return the last few pieces of furniture to their usual places (the trolley table has to come back to the family room, one dining chair needs to be returned to the table, etc.
- Cover the family room sofas with dust sheets (those covers were taken off before the almsgiving, today)
- Take the trash cans to the curb
- Do as much erasing of evidence as possible

Thank you, everyone, who said you will keep friend T in your thoughts and prayers.  I want you to know that our prayers on her behalf have been answered! 

How was your Sunday?  What are your plans for Monday? 


  1. I'm glad your almsgiving went well, but I'm so pleased to read the news of your friend. Sending my very best wishes for a continued and full recovery. X

    1. Thank you, Jules. I will be calling to check on my friend, later, but, I am hopeful that her recovery will go well.

  2. That's fantastic news about your friend. The power of prayer should never be underestimated.

    1. It is truly a blessing, isn't it? I am so happy for her and her sister!

  3. You did a beautiful job with your preparations and so nice of your cousins and friend to help you. Cats do serve a good purpose in life I see! lol. That Dancer! Andrea

    1. Thank you, Andrea. This is really my "big event" of the year. I hold it in memory of loved ones who have died, in thanksgiving for a good year that is coming to a close, and to ask for the blessing of another good year for next year. Now, I will continue with my preparations to celebrate the end of the year festivities.

      LOL, that Dancer is quite a character! He has to participate, too, in his own way. :)

  4. I’m so happy to hear that your friend T is awake and not paralyzed. The other day I told one of my friends about T, and we were discussing how easily our lives can change. It’s a miracle. I hope T will be able to go home soon.

    It sounds like the almsgiving went very well. Now you can rest. 😊

    1. Thank you, Nil. Yes, our lives can change in a minute! Change was the theme of the sermon the monks gave, yesterday. Impermanence. Nothing stays the same.

      The almsgiving went off very well. As I bade farewell to the monks, I told them that if there was anything missing, any "adu paadu", to please excuse it, but, they hastened to assure me that there was nothing missing, that everything was done perfectly, and everything had been well organized. All that hard work and planning paid off! :)

  5. I enjoyed reading about your day and found it very interesting. I would need several days of down time to recover though. How wonderful that your friend is so improved!

    1. Thank you, Susan. I'm a bit tired, today, but, energized, too! It's wonderful news about my friend, isn't it? I'm so happy about it.

  6. Wonderful to hear of answered prayer for T. Please explain, what is"red rice"?

    1. It is, isn't it?

      Red rice is similar to brown rice in the sense that it is a whole-grain rice, with only the outer, inedible husk removed, but the bran layer left intact (or, only partially removed). It is called red rice because the bran layer is naturally pigmented a dark red.

  7. Your almsgiving looks like it went well. I know it's a lot of work but you must feel good when you do it. I also enjoy hearing about your religious customs and the symbolism involved.

    I am so happy about your friend's recovery and will pray that she continues to get stronger.


    p.s. Dancer is a little showoff :)

    1. Thank you, Debra. Yes, the almsgiving went well. A lot of work, but, very rewarding to me. :)

      Ha, ha, Dancer is too much, isn't he?

  8. Such great news about your friend!

    I loved reading about your traditions and lovely to see all the food prepared and the monks. I'm so glad it turned out to be a wonderful day.

    Can I ask why the furniture is covered with white sheets?

    1. Thank you, Sharon.

      Yes, the furniture is covered with white sheets to symbolically cleanse them of the everyday dirt, in order to show respect to the monks.

  9. Such good news about friend T. Prayers do get answered.
    Is there a significance to the orange that the monks wear?

    1. Yes, it is such good news, isn't it?

      It is said that the original robes worn by the first Buddhist monks were pieced together from the funeral shrouds of corpses; the shrouds were considered as something discarded and unclean, therefore, they were worthless and well suited for robes since the monks weren't supposed to posses many personal belongings and not anything of value. They were then sewn together to form a robe (recycling at its best!) and washed with turmeric water, which is a disinfectant; the turmeric dyed the fabric a deep yellow and the color became associated with the robes. Today, of course, the robes are sewn with new fabric that has been artificially dyed orange but, they are still pieced in a certain pattern that is supposed to be reminiscent of rice fields and the raised foot paths through the rice fields, a reminder of the fact that the original robes were pieced together from something that had been discarded and dyed in order to disinfect them.

  10. I'm so glad that your friend is recovering. You have been very busy with all of that cooking and preparation. That is an impressive amount of food.

    1. Thank you, Stephenie. Yes, we are so happy that she is recovering.

      Almsgivings usually entail a lot of food being prepared. I am grateful I could do some of the cooking ahead of time. :)

  11. first of all,it is wonderful to hear your friend is improving- 'good thoughts and prayers' certainly helped her ... as did good medical care-
    your almsgiving pics and info is so interesting- it is wonderful to learn about the traditions of others- Dancer looked to be in excellent form ... such a splendid helper-
    I so appreciate your adding Whitney (Daughter 1) and Paige (Daughter 2) to your prayers- they send their thanks- Paige has her surgery tomorrow with path results due on the 18th- we are all eager to get this journey underway-
    hope you aren't too worn out after your weekend-
    as always,fondest regards-

    1. Thank you, Barb. I wasn't sure of your daughters' names, so, I simply said my friend Barb's daughters. I hope Paige's surgery goes well and the path results are the best possible ones they can be. I will continue to keep her, her sister, and you, in my prayers for good health.

      I am rather tired, today. Pushing myself a bit to get things put away, but, I'll give myself another day or two, if needed.

      (((HUGS))) to you and yours.

  12. What an exciting post and how wonderful that your friend T is doing so well. It is lovely to see the photo of the monks in their robes, and I am sure your home is really blessed by their presence and the whole occasion.

    1. Thank you, Bushlady. Yes, it is wonderful that T is recovering.

      That is exactly how I feel; that the presence of the monks and their chanting of blessings in the house, blesses the house. :)

  13. It was interesting to hear about your almsgiving and the traditions related to it. And expecially happy to hear the good news of your friend's recovery. I hope she continues to gain strength and health.

    1. Thank you, Susanne. One of my cousins visited my friend, yesterday, and said she continues to recover. :)

  14. I enjoyed reading about your almsgiving and the pictures. Glad you friend is doing better.

  15. I loved reading about this. I loved hearing about you serving the monks and then your friends and family with the food and about the rules. When I was at University, I wrote an essay on the role and importance of music in the day of the life of a Tibetan Buddhist monk and I did learn a lot about the routines and rules of the Buddhist life for this particular order and I am glad you reminded me of that. It was a fascinating essay to study for and write.
    I'm so glad to hear about the miracle of your friend- that's amazing and a testament to prayer!

    1. Thank you, Kezzie. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about it. My friend is out of ICU, now, but, I haven't been able to visit her because of my lingering cold and cough - I don't want to infect her.


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