I am sitting underneath the shelter of an entirely wooden structure. We are staying right in the center of town here in Luang Prabang, Laos at beautiful property called Villa Chitdara. The whole place is constructed of wood - the floors, the furniture, the ceiling, the balcony…even our toilet paper holder is a wooden carved elephant.
In front of me is a line of people seated underneath umbrellas. The sharp “thwack” of raindrops hitting a sheet metal roof next door marries with a gentle slapping sound of bare feet walking on wet pavement. Everything else is still and quiet in the early morning hour that it is.
I awoke just in time to come sit on our balcony and witness a daily tradition here in this part of the world: locals giving morning alms to the monks. They walk up the street in silent procession each day, collecting offerings of sticky rice in brass pots. This will likely be their only food. The locals are barefoot too, with colorful sashes across their torsos, as they kneel down in reverence before the monks. There is a sweetness and serenity to the whole ritual as it proceeds for about 30 minutes.
Then, as if on cue, a few roosters begin to crow and the line of monks dwindles to zero. The locals begin to pack up and a couple dogs scamper past in search of stray rice that didn’t make it into the pots. A few motorbikes rumble by, beginning the day here in Luang Prabang. The sacredness of what I just witnessed plants a seed in my heart, reminding me of the importance of stopping to pay homage and respect to what bring us meaning in life.