great teachers with students in Dawn Kiam’s chapel

For a number of years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving in Siam, both when I lived here and during annual visits since returning to the USA in 2000. Last year was an obvious exception, as I was still recovering from chemotherapy and not up for the immune challenges of trans-Pacific flight. This year, I’m grateful to be recovered enough, both from lymphoma and chemo side effects, to make the trip. So I am grateful to be spending another Thanksgiving in Siam.

Cancer has inspired much gratitude in me, which has had a big place in my recovery. Back during some of the worst days of chemo, mucositis, infections, and the like, gratitude for all the kind beings who were supporting Jo Marie & I in so many ways — emotionally, logistically, medically, financially — opened and strengthened my heart quite joyously. Since then, gratitude has been a regular meditation and practice for me, for example, in appreciating kindnesses large and small, and regarding the beauty and strength of the many tree friends at Liberation Park.

I’m jetlagged just now and blogging at 3 am isn’t a great way to get some sleep and prepare for tomorrow’s activities, but I want to express some of my gratitude before Thanksgiving Day passes in the USA.

a family that pitches in multilaterally

For one, it’s wonderful to be back in Siam reconnecting and catching up with Thai friends. Not only to we share a lot of history and fun, they were deeply generous and supportive during the chemo days. I’m happy to be able to express my gratitude in person and will have many opportunities over the next few weeks.

Family — both birth family and in-laws — helped us in person, both in Rochester and Norwalk, and many other ways. It’s impossible to overdo the gratitude I feel for moms, dads, sisters, and brothers.

Thanks, too, to all the friends, colleagues, neighbors, and students who helped out and continue to do so. As the crisis passed, we’ve continued to support each other, and so occasions for gratitude never cease, which includes the cancer journeys of others. In fact, Liberation Park is in the hearts and loving hands of an expanded circle of leadership.

Gratitude for Buddha-Dhamma, which has given my life meaning of the last few decades and deepened as needed to guide me through last year’s process. Teachings on conditionality, selflessness, and letting go softened many difficult and painful edges. And gratitude for teachers, such as Ajahn Buddhadasa, and Dhamma comrades who’ve helped knock some Dhamma sense into me. I learned much about gratitude from Suan Mokkh and Thai culture.

Especially, profound gratitude for Jo Marie and her partnership in life: heartwarming hugs and love, sharing in the difficulties of dealing with cancer and the medical system, intellectual challenges and lessons, exploration of Buddha-Dhamma, working with Liberation Park, enjoying projects, and all the kids who bring cheer to our lives on the land. She got me through the cancer stuff and we work together to do what we can with the opportunities of this stressful opportunity of human birth. Her acceptance of me as I am, is a great gift in my life.

Lastly, here’s an article that touches on gratitude and cancer in ways quite similar to my experience.

keeping affectionate and sometimes treat-hungry eyes on the humans

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