It's never too early (or too late) to practice holiness.
Many people think that religion is just about following a bunch of rules. “Ugh, what a hassle,” some think. “I’ll worry about getting into heaven when I get old.”
 
Thinking that way is like waiting to learn how to play soccer until you’re a grandpa. Being a good player requires years and years of practice—learning ball control, how to shoot and pass accurately, getting a “mind for the game”. The best soccer players started when they were very young, especially since that is when the body and brain develop the fastest.

Besides, soccer isn't only about learning to follow the rules of the game. The joy of the game is the beautiful and magical things good players make happen on the field. The joy of holiness is the wonders that the Divine does through you.

     -The Godmother
 
Cambodia's Buddhist monks: Buddhism, and Cambodia's Buddhist monks, are like the country's rivers: essential, ubiquitous. There are two main branches of Buddhism: Mayahana (practiced in Japan, Korea and, relatively recently, the West) and Theravada (found in places like Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar where the kids in the photo are). Whereas meditation is common practice for lay persons who practice Mayahana Buddhism, for Buddhists in places like Cambodia, it is the monks that meditate; they are a lay person's conduit to the spirit world.

A decision to become a monk in Cambodia is often an instrumental one: if the parents of a poor child want him to be able to study, he becomes a monk. If not, he works the rice field. For these, the 227 rules that monks must follow might seem a burden. For others, the motivation is not about the material opportunities afforded by the monkhood, but about the spiritual ones. Unlike the first sort who might be monks for just a few years, these may remain monks indefinitely, leading lives of prayer, meditation, and, increasingly, activism.
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Did you miss a previous Godmother's Advice email? 
  • #001: Khmer boxing & solving problems
  • #002: Workers' commute & "making room"
  • #003: Bright balloons & dangerous attractions
  • #004: Bats and others' ways
  • #005: Playing in the mud
  • #006: Tattoos and bad habits
  • #007: Make-believe
  • #008: Dental and other care
  • #009: Boat races and collaboration
  • #010: Loads carried
  • #011: Nothing beyond repair
  • #012: Solid bricks
  • #013: Toilet left standing
  • #014: Flying a kite
 
  • #015: Everyone is held
  • #016: Dry fish in the sun
  • #017: Little children
  • #018: Worth looking for
  • #019: Two-way windows
  • #020: Heroes emerge
  • #021: A wide net cast
  • #022: Take what you need
  • #023: Make your own fun
  • #024: See what the sun smiles on
  • #025: Fly high
  • #026: Open the treasure chest
  • #027: Where greatness lies
Background about this email: Several years ago, I was feeling like an inadequate Godmother due to my absence in the US and, consequently, my absence in my Godsons' lives. I decided to send what little advice I have as someone who has been in the world for 30 years longer than they. Thus was born my Godmother's emails--a tidbit of advice each week. I decided to share these emails with friends and others because I feel that  folks need some good, helpful or happy things in their Inbox these days. I hope these Godmother's advice emails are good, helpful or happy for you; otherwise, unsubscribe below.
This email and my work in Cambodia is made possible by the Maryknoll Lay Missioners program through which I serve. To support me, use this secure online form. If you are outside the US, you can donate through PayPal.com (specify "maria_montello@yahoo.com" as the recipient).
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