one of the women who give alms food every day came down the stairs with the head and shoulders hanging and obviously feeling a bit ashamed. After she had placed the food in my bowl which she always does slowly and carefully, she knelt down and looked straight up to me. Her face was totally swollen. I gave the blessing and looked at her with real heartfelt compassion. She explained the the evening before a bee had stung her in the forehead.
She is my age and has as everyone in our age wrinkles on the forehead and around the eyes. Her face was so swollen, that all the wrinkles had disappeared. Had she understood English I would have said: ‘ That’s brilliant, look at you! No more wrinkles. Other women pay a lot of money for botox injections to look like that.’ She does not speak English and this sentence was far beyond my Thai speaking skills. So I laughed lovingly. That encouraged her. She pressed her finger in a random swollen part of her forehead, which left a little crater when she took her finger off. She said ‘look’ I looked and we laughed together. I tried to show her wrinkles and to explain that now she has none but I couldn’t get it through and just told her that I will check the dictionary and explain her tomorrow.
Next day I had ‘wrinkles’ written in Thai in nice Thai letters on a little scrap of paper. When I came to her house and we finished the official alms giving and blessing part, I showed her the little peace of paper and said in my broken Thai: ‘bee sting good, now you young, no wrinkles’.
The reason why I mention this story is not to show off what a funny bone I am even in Thai language but her reaction was so touching. It was just so pure gratitude and love, just a glance, a smile that almost brought tears to my eyes, or we almost cried together, not from laughing to much nor from being sad but from some hard to explain understatement about impermanence and vanity.