Dignity and calm, January 4, 2013

At the end of the year, Josh and Nimal joined us for another trip to Kurunegala. At Bodhirukharama, Ven. Amilasiri, as always, was welcoming. As anyone who has met him and visited the monastery knows, he does his duty quietly without fuss. He is of that rare sort, determined to carry out whatever he has undertaken without complaint, but with gentle smiles instead.

There are now 70 elderly and infirm monks staying at Bodhirukharama. While delivering their lunches to the bedridden monks in their wards, we enjoyed the smiles of those we had visited before and had to smile ourselves at the surprise on the faces of some of the newer patients who must have wondered who we were. We were glad we'd carried enough of Lily's tasty potato and chickpea curry to round out their meals. We also took note of the empty bed.

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Although we spoke with Hin, a dedicated volunteer from Perth, on the phone while he was at Bodhirukarama, we didn't have a chance to meet him. He spent almost a full month as a care giver for the elderly monks. His photos are touching, and we hope to have a chance to hear more of his story when he comes back to Sri Lanka this year.

Between his return to Australia and our visit to Kurunegala, two of the elderly monks he had helped to feed and bathe passed away. Hin sent us a photo of one of the monks he had spent much time with. He was diabetic and had had a stubborn infection that Hin had carefully dressed, but his leg had had to be amputated in Kurunegala Hospital. Unfortunately, he had survived the operation only for a few days.

Hin expressed his satisfaction with his stay and his hope that more men volunteer to help at Bodhirukarama. He observed that the monks were in need of multivitamins, nutritional supplements, and personal care items. Hin's compassionate service was deeply appreciated, and Ven. Amilasiri expressed his welcome to any who would like to visit and offer their help. Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!! for such dedication.

After lunch, we made a donation of dry rations, a fifty-kilo sack of rice, laundry and hand soap, pumpkins, potatoes, biscuits, tea, milk powder, and sugar. We also donated some money from Ira and Shehan from Australia and a commode chair for bedside use. In his anumodana, one of the senior monks, who, happily, is fluent in English and had spent some time in Malaysia teaching meditation, explained that our meritorious donations were being made, in actuality, not just to the monks there at Bodhirukarama right then, but to the Sangha of the past, present, and future. It warmed our hearts to think that that extended all the way back to the earliest Sangha, such as Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Moggallana, and Ven. Ananda. What a happy thought! We certainly wish we could do more, but we are always gladdened whenever we donate to Bodhirukharama, where nothing is ever wasted. We are grateful to be able to contribute to the environment of dignity and calm that pervades the monastery. Caring for the elderly and the sick is noble work.

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Construction has begun on new residential buildings nearby, on land donated by devotees in the village. One building is almost completed, with walls colorfully painted, but there are not enough funds to finish the floors, windows, toilets, and showers. For a while, the elderly monks will stay in the old wards, but Ven. Amilasiri is confident that all this will work out soon.

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