Monday, February 28, 2011


A quick end-of-February note, just before I fly off to Toronto. At this time of year there are so many markers, reminding me of people past and present, anniversaries of all kinds:

Today is February 28th, and if she were alive my mother-in-law Ann Hegewald Alford would be celebrating her ninetieth birthday today. She was a wonderful woman with a big heart, who loved books and meeting new people and thinking about the wider world.
My father was born on February 29, one of those special people who have a big birthday every four years and in between just a flicker at midnight for a birthday. He would be turning ninety-one tonight. A friend, Helen is another "29-er" who will have no day for her birthday this year.
Tomorrow the wonderful Evelyn turns five, and Michael, another child of friends and a gifted and lively musician I've known since he was born, is turning twenty-four.
The next day, March 2, was my grandmother's birthday. Since she was born in 1889, this day marks 122 years since her birth. It's amazing to think that we can span such a long time within the web of our family and friends. She was 25 when the first war started, an unimaginably long time ago in some contexts, and a mere yesterday in others..

And so it goes, the intensely peopled days of late February and early March.

It's great to be flying at this time of year: While spanning the globe and seeing things from different physical points of view, I also get to time-travel in my mind's-eye and view the world and events from different temporal locations.

Do you ever do this? It's a rich way of getting a new perspective on things, rather like drawing a map of the world with the south pole on top, or any other switching of normal orientation or perspective.

I'm feeling a little mediative right now, a familiar pre-departure state for me. It may also have to do with our visit to the monk at Wat Don Chang in Ban Chan, this morning. He is another "muscular buddhist", like the Sitagu Sayadaw I mentioned two posts ago. He is putting his energies into providing accessible high quality schooling to hilltribe children. He now accommodates 700 of them in dorms and classrooms, by his wat just south-east of Chiang Mai. I went today with Fern and Noi and new friends J and A, to get a blessing and just touch base. It's like getting a firm footing on the months to come, and I do feel blessed. He's quite a guy.

(And it turns out that A knows all about the Sitagu Sayadaw. She says that all Burmese know about him and that he has a large and growing international following. Good. We need more of this, so that the world connects to Burma and those in need can be helped directly.)

After the monk's blessing we were hungry (of course!). We went for khao soi at Mae Jam Paa - their fish version is especially wonderful - food for the body, now that the heart and soul were well taken care of.

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